A former police officer at the head of Hong Kong. Former British colony security chief John Lee is set to lead the city. His key role in suppressing the pro-democracy movement has made this former street policeman a safe man for Beijing. John Lee, 64, the only candidate for the post of chief executive of Hong Kong, was nominated Sunday with 1,416 votes by a committee of 1,461 personalities acquired in Beijing.

The former police officer will begin his five-year term on July 1, the 25th anniversary of the UK’s return of Hong Kong to China. This working-class man, who began his career at the bottom of the ladder as a simple uniformed policeman, will be Hong Kong’s first leader from the security forces.

Beijing’s trust

John Lee was Hong Kong’s security chief at the time of massive pro-democracy protests in 2019. As such, he oversaw the crackdown on the protest and the severe political takeover that followed. This earned him to appear on a list of Chinese and Hong Kong personalities sanctioned by the United States. But it also allowed him to gain the trust of Beijing.

“John Lee is the one the central government knows best, because he has had constant contact and interaction with mainland China”, explains to AFP the businessman Michael Tien, pro-Beijing member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. The arrival of John Lee marks a break with the four chief executives who have preceded him since the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997, all from the business world or administration.


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