According to AP, John Lee, a Beijing loyalist, was elected to be the next leader of Hong Kong.

Lee was the only candidate in the election and won 99% of the votes. He received 1,416 votes from the pro-Beijing committee. Only eight members voted against him.

Lee, 64 years old, will begin his five-year term on July 1, replacing current Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam.

Lee is a hard-line security chief who led the crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy protest over a controversial extradition bill in 2019.

In 2020, he also backed a national security law that outlaws most opposition voices, reducing the city’s autonomy.

The Associated Press reported that the central government from Beijing carefully examined almost all election committee members.

Lee’s win is considered a sign that the Chinese regime will tighten its grip on the city.

BBC reported that the League of Social Democrats, one of the only pro-democracy groups left in Hong Kong, organized a protest before polls opened. They chanted “power to the people, universal suffrage now.” They also carried a banner showing, “Human rights over power, the people are greater than the country.”

Police stopped and prevented them from marching to the election venue. Police also searched the protesters’ belongings but did not arrest them.

Last year, Hong Kong’s election law went through a major reform when Beijing wanted to ensure that only so-called “patriots” can hold office.

The city’s legislature was also restructured to remove opposition voices.

A senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Ivan Choy, told AP that it would be easy for Lee to govern Hong Kong compared to Lam without opposition.

The Chinese regime’s liaison office in Hong Kong congratulated Lee. It also said the election was carried out in a “fair, just and orderly manner in accordance with laws and regulations.”

According to the Associated Press, critics say that because Beijing exerts strict control over the city, freedom of speech and assembly in Hong Kong has disappeared.

Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region. The U.K. handed over the former colony to the Chinese regime in 1997. Beijing promised the city would be under the “one country, two systems” for 50 years.

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