Hong Kong Slides Down The Path Towards Autocracy

The Chinese dictatorship authorized the appointment of Hong Kong’s defense director John Lee to chief secretary on Friday; security force head Chris Tang, 55, will assume Lee’s place, opponents say, tightening Beijing’s military grip on the international financial center even more.

Following Hong Kong’s transfer from the British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, Lee, 63, a retired police deputy director, has been promoted to the chief secretary; this marks the first time a security expert has held the top two posts in the territory.

Several former head secretaries have substantial experience in social and economic policy.

Do the New Directors Have the Experience Needed?

Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, said in a letter he believes they are qualified for their new positions and will rise to the difficulties of serving the people.

With numerous arrests of pro-democracy activists and restrictions on community forums and free expression, Beijing’s installation of new national safety law in Hong Kong in June 2020 put China’s least corrupt city on an autocratic path.

Police personnel have rigorously executed China’s current security protocol to increase control and crackdown on liberties in the former English colony; after large pro-democracy rallies in 2019, these police may gain even more influence as a result of the change, critics warn.

Hong Kong Is Slipping Towards Autocracy

According to Samuel Chu of the Hong Kong Democratic Council, the elevation of John Lee and Chris Tang finishes Hong Kong’s rapid and thorough transition into a police state.

According to local news media, Lam and Lee are set to fly to Beijing next week for the Communist Party Party’s centennial festivities.

Last August, the US government sanctioned 11 Hong Kong and Chinese officials for compromising Hong Kong’s independence and democracy procedures, despite the passage of the national security legislation.

On Friday, Lam told journalists that the revisions will provide a good foundation for a governmental transition when the current term ends next year.

As per a government statement, Lee graduated from Australia’s Charles Sturt University; he then entered the Hong Kong Police Force in 1977, rising through the ranks to become deputy director.

In 2019, he played a crucial role in attempting to impose a divisive proposed extradition bill that sparked mass protests in Hong Kong. After tremendous public pressure on Lee to resign, the bill was eventually dropped.

Lee has led the city’s discipline forces, such as the police, in the homeland security operation, and was known for his hardline posture.

The crackdown has resulted in widespread arrests of democratic activists and lawmakers; it also resulted in a national security freeze on the assets of the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, which was forced to close abruptly this week.

Lee is firm, sincere, and efficient, according to a source who has dealt with him; however, as a career police officer, he does not a great feel for the dynamics of a deeply politicized Hong Kong.