The Chinese president has welcomed the “new atmosphere” in Hong Kong, welcoming the new chief

Xi Jinping welcomes new Hong Kong leader, assures full support

John Lee will take over as chief executive on July 1. (File)

Beijing:

Chinese President Xi Jinping has met with Hong Kong’s next leader in Beijing, with John Lee saying he has full confidence in the central government, state media reported Monday.

Mr Lee traveled to Beijing on Saturday to receive blessings from the central government as he prepares to take office within a month.

The 64-year-old former security chief, who oversaw the crackdown on Hong Kong’s democracy movement, was elected the next chief executive by a small committee of Beijing loyalists in early May.

“I believe that the administration of the new government will definitely bring a new environment and create a new chapter in the development of Hong Kong,” said President Xi Jinping, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

John Lee will take office on July 1, marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s transition from British to Chinese rule and a half-point of the “one country, two systems” political model.

According to Xinhua, Xi Jinping said John Lee had “the courage to take responsibility” and “contributed to the protection of national security and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.”

“The central government fully assures you and fully trusts you,” Shi added.

At a time when Hong Kong is being restructured into China’s authoritarian image, Lee was the sole candidate in the race to succeed the outgoing leader Carrie Lam.

According to a statement from the Hong Kong government, Lee told the meeting that he was “deeply honored by the appointment and fully aware of the great responsibility placed on me.”

He pledged to unite the government and the people to “unite all sectors” and “work for the welfare of Hong Kong and its people.”

“Together, we will build Hong Kong into a city of long-term prosperity and a caring and inclusive society,” he added.

Beijing has enacted a national security law that forced dissent in 2019 after widespread and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests shook the city.

For the first time in years after years of unrest for a city plagued by U.S. sanctions, Lee’s promotion, instability and economically weak epidemic control have placed a security official at Hong Kong’s top post.

Earlier this month, countries including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States joined the European Union, warning of a new leader-elect process, which they called a “continuing attack on political pluralism and fundamental freedoms.” “

Beijing, however, hailed the process as a “real demonstration of democratic consciousness” and said it was the final result of a strategy to ensure that only “patriots” run Hong Kong.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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