Chinese president Xi Jinping praised Hong Kong’s incoming leader John Lee at a meeting that analysts said cemented the role of the city’s new electoral system for the long term.
Xi said the new electoral system had played a “decisive role” in ensuring the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, Beijing’s catch-all term for its requirements regarding who governs the city.
Earlier this month, Lee, a former security minister and policeman, was chosen after receiving 1,416 votes from the 1,461-member “patriots only” selection committee, comprised mostly of pro-Beijing politicians and businesspeople that represents 0.02 per cent of the city’s 7.4mn population.
“This 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,” Xi said. “It must be cherished and upheld for a long time to come.”
Analysts believe that Xi’s comments hinted further democratisation in the city would be shelved and Western-style democratic elections shunned.
Carrie Lam, the city’s current leader, said Xi’s remarks outlined clearly to the Hong Kong public that the “patriots only” screening system for choosing lawmakers and the chief executive is here to stay.
“President Xi has hit the nail on the head with his remarks,” Lam told reporters on Tuesday. “The reformed electoral system should of course be upheld for a long period of time.”
The meeting between Lee and Xi was a routine step as the former prepares to take up his post as Hong Kong’s chief executive on July 1.