Former Hong Kong security chief John Lee resigns ahead of leadership bid

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
2 min read

A hardline former Hong Kong security chief sanctioned by the US for his role in China’s campaign against dissent resigned on Wednesday, kickstarting his expected bid to become the city’s next leader.

John Lee, who oversaw the police response to huge democracy protests three years ago and a subsequent crackdown, will go on leave with immediate effect, according to a government press release.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Lee, 64, has been widely tipped by local media and government loyalists in recent days as Beijing’s top choice for the role.

Hong Kong’s leader is not popularly elected, the source of years of democracy protests that have been comprehensively squashed in the last two years.

The new chief executive will be chosen by a committee of 1,500 Beijing loyalists on May 8, a process that is choreographed behind the scenes by Chinese officials through Beijing’s Liaison Office.

Current leader Carrie Lam announced on Monday that she would not seek a second five-year term, firing the starting gun on the race to replace her.

Lee rose through the ranks of the police before heading up the Security Bureau until he was last year made the city’s number two leader -- previously a springboard to the top job.

As a cabinet minister, his resignation will need to be approved by Beijing -- a symbolic step that would double as him receiving China’s blessing to run.

Only those who get the nod from Beijing have any hope of standing and then securing a majority of votes in the 1,500-strong Election Committee, whose members are vetted for their political loyalty.

Local media reported that Beijing’s Liaison Office summoned dozens of Election Committee members on Wednesday morning for meetings to discuss the leadership race.

Like Lam, Lee was among 11 Hong Kong and Chinese officials sanctioned by the United States in 2020 for “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting the freedom of expression or assembly.”

Read more: Three Hong Kong democracy activists found guilty over June 4 assembly

Top Content Trending