HONG KONG — Hong Kong Chief Secretary John Lee, a security official during the 2019 protracted and often violent pro-democracy protests in the global financial hub, said on Wednesday he had resigned in a bid to run in the May elections to become the new leader of the city. .
Lee, 64, a former deputy police commissioner, was promoted to China’s No. 2 territory in 2021 in a move that some political analysts said signaled Beijing’s priorities for Hong Kong were security. rather than the economy.
“I state in the letter that the reason for my resignation is that if my resignation is approved by the central people’s government, I plan to prepare to run in the next Chief Executive election,” Lee said during the interview. ‘a press conference.
Download the NBC News App for the latest news and politics
He is the first government official to announce a candidacy for the top job, with media reporting that he will be the only candidate in the chief executive election due to take place on May 8.
Lee was among other senior Hong Kong and Chinese officials sanctioned by the United States in 2020 for what Washington described as their role in restricting Hong Kong’s freedoms under a sweeping security law. imposed on the city by Beijing.
Authorities in Hong Kong and China deny that individual rights are being eroded and say the security legislation was needed to restore stability after protracted unrest in 2019.
Former chief executives had extensive expertise in developing economic and social policy, and Lee was the first security official to lead the city in his role as chief secretary. Lee’s promotion to No. 2 in the city saw Chief of Police Chris Tang take over as Secretary of Security previously held by Lee.
His bid for the city’s top political post is a sign of the growing power of security officials in the former British colony after faithfully enforcing Beijing’s new laws. If successful, Lee would be the first person with a security background to lead Hong Kong since its return to Chinese rule in 1997.
Lee’s announcement comes two days after outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would not seek a second five-year term, after presiding over one of the most tumultuous periods in Hong Kong history.