Xi voices 'full trust' for HK new chief, hopes city govt to unveil new changes
Electoral system proves successful, fits HK democracy
Published: May 30, 2022 11:10 PM
President Xi Jinping meets with John Lee, the newly appointed sixth-term chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, on Monday in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua

President Xi Jinping meets with John Lee, the newly appointed sixth-term chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, on Monday in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping met John Lee Ka-chiu, the newly appointed sixth-term chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Monday in Beijing, during which he praised Lee for his patriotism and contributions for safeguarding national security and Hong Kong' s stability and assured that Lee has the full trust from the central government. The Chinese top leader also stresses the central government's resolve of unswervingly implementing the "one country, two systems" and that the city's new electoral system must be treasured and upheld, hoping that the new HKSAR government can unveil a new chapter for the city's development. 

Experts in both the mainland and Hong Kong consider the central government's affirmation of Lee as a major requirement for Hong Kong officials - patriots with the firm stance who take action in advancing reforms to fix deeply-rooted problems that Hong Kong society has been facing over the past decades and in bringing the city into a new future.

As 2022 also marks the 25th anniversary of the city's return to the motherland, the message delivered by the central government is clear. The "one country, two systems" principle won't change as Xi fully recognized its practice over the past 25 years, and he also indicated a new direction for the future as the city is changing from chaos to being well governed and prosperous, experts noted.  

In his meeting with Lee after he was officially appointed as the new chief executive (CE) and received an official appointment certificate of the State Council from Premier Li Keqiang on Monday morning, Xi praised Lee for maintaining the unwavering stance of loving the country and the HKSAR, being willing to assume responsibilities and actively performing his duties, as well as his contributions to safeguarding national security and Hong Kong's prosperity and stability in various roles.

"The central government gives full affirmation to you and has full trust in you," Xi said.

Over the past year, Hong Kong has successfully held the Election Committee election, the seventh-term Legislative Council election and the sixth-term CE election, which proved that the new electoral system has played a decisive role in implementing the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong," ensuring the position of Hong Kong people as their own masters, and facilitating a good environment in which all sectors of society work together for Hong Kong's development, Xi said. 

He also noted that the new electoral system is a political and democratic system that is in line with the "one country, two systems" principle and suited to Hong Kong's realities and needs for development. It must be cherished and upheld for a long time. 

For the central government, the new electoral system is very important for safeguarding national security, helping fully implement the "one country, two systems" in a correct manner, so it has to be upheld for a long time. "For those who seek to restart the political reform, they must feel disappointed," Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"I believe even if Hong Kong's electoral system will see further improvement in the future, those changes will only be made in making the patriots more united and stronger rather than copying the Western-style democratic system," Lau said. 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, and despite challenges over the past 25 years, the practice of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong has been a resounding success, Xi said, noting that the central government's resolve to fully and faithfully implement the principle of "one country, two systems" has never wavered, still less will it change. 

Xi said he believes that the new HKSAR government will bring new changes and Hong Kong will make new advances in its development.

In evaluating the political performance of Lee, his firm stance of being a patriot comes as the first quality, and in implementing the new electoral reform, electing those who are truly patriots is the top objective of the system, Tian Feilong, a legal expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"Lee's political quality and governing performance is highly affirmed by the central government, and the new electoral system laid the foundation for Hong Kong's democracy," Tian said. 

Lee was elected with 99.16 percent of the supportive votes on May 8, which was the first election for CE since the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong and the electoral reforms that brought about the principle of only patriots administering Hong Kong. The election also completed the final step of the electoral system reform, after electing EC members, LegCo members and now CE, which is a fresh starting point for Hong Kong in terms of local governance by eliminating interference from anti-China and rioting forces in the system, expert said. 

In the eyes of the top leader, the new HKSAR government is facing the most favorable environment in terms of governing than the previous CEs, as both the national security law for Hong Kong and the new electoral system ensure that the anti-China rioting forces and external forces won't be able to hinder local governance, Lau noted. 

"This brings up the new expectation from the central government for the local governance, as the new government is expected to make progress in fixing the problems that Hong Kong faces, and the central government will closely supervise it and hold it accountable," he said. 

Besides forming a capable team for the new government, fixing the region's housing woes and implementing Article 23 of the Basic Law were among the urgent tasks listed by Lee, who also highlighted youth education, the city's further integration into the country's overall development plan in his policy address. 

"The top leader's message is clear. The new government, along with different sectors of Hong Kong society, needs to work together and make some changes in carrying out the reforms," Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee from Hong Kong, told the Global Times. 

Lee will assume office on July 1, 2022.