Hong Kong’s No. 2 official, a strong supporter of Beijing’s national security law, formally resigned on April 6 to run in the city’s upcoming leadership race.
John Lee Ka-chiu, the city’s chief secretary for administration, submitted his resignation to Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.
Lee said at a news conference,
“If my resignation is approved by the Central People’s Government, I shall plan to prepare to stand for the upcoming Chief Executive Election.”
He said he would inform of his future agenda if Beijing approves his resignation.
Lee, 64, is a career police officer. He became Hong Kong’s chief secretary in June and formerly served as Lam’s secretary for security. The South China Morning Post reported that Lee would be the sole candidate to receive backing from Beijing.
According to AP News, Lee is regarded as Beijing’s favorite candidate for the chief executive position. The newspaper cited Ivan Choy, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Government and Public Administration, saying the potential support Lee would receive from Beijing indicated that the regime was looking for loyalty and an emphasis on national security for Hong Kong.
Lee was known for his support of the Chinese regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong. He strongly supported the controversial National Security Law, which targeted Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, supporters, and media.
He was also a notable figure in proposing a much-contested bill in 2019 that would have allowed extraditing suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China, which caused intense social unrest. At the time, Lee oversaw a police crackdown on demonstrators during several months of massive pro-democracy protests.
In 2020, the U.S. sanctioned Lee, Lam, and other Hong Kong and mainland Chinese government officials for “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting the freedom of expression or assembly.”