Watch out,

new sheriff in town

.

Hong Kong's former security chief John Lee is set to take charge of the city after shining in his key role in cracking down on the pro-democracy movement.

An iron fist that earned this former street policeman to become one of Beijing's safe men.

Sole candidate

John Lee, 64, the only candidate for the post of chief executive of Hong Kong, will be appointed this Sunday by a committee of some 1,500 personalities acquired in Beijing.

He will begin his five-year term on July 1, the 25th anniversary of the UK's return of Hong Kong to China.

This working-class man, who began his career at the bottom of the ladder as a simple uniformed cop, will be Hong Kong's first leader from a police background.

John Lee was Hong Kong's security chief at the time of massive pro-democracy protests in 2019. As such, he oversaw the crackdown on the protest and the severe political takeover that followed.

Beijing Trust

This earned him to appear on a list of Chinese and Hong Kong personalities sanctioned by the United States.

But it has also helped him gain the trust of Beijing, which has often suspected Hong Kong elites of disloyalty or incompetence.

"John Lee is the one the central government knows best, because he has had constant contact and interaction with mainland China," said businessman Michael Tien, a pro-Beijing member of the Beijing Legislative Council. Hong Kong.

Break with the old leaders

The arrival of John Lee marks a break with the four chief executives who have preceded him since the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997, all from the business world or administration.

After 35 years in the force, Lee had entered government in 2012 and enjoyed a meteoric rise.

Local media say he got a "platinum lift".

He was, since last year, the number two of the executive.

According to Chien-yu Shih, an expert on Chinese security issues at the Taiwan Institute for National Defense, John Lee came to the fore in Beijing during the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

An iron hand

John Lee, a Catholic educated with the Jesuits, grew up in the popular district of Sham Shui Po. Promised to study engineering, he gave it up to join the police.

He later told a pro-China newspaper that he made this choice out of vocation, after being bullied and beaten by thugs as a child.

Married with two sons, Mr. Lee is tight-lipped about his family.

In particular, he refused to say whether she still had British nationality, which he himself renounced when he entered the government.

He promised to make “national security” one of his priorities, auguring the continuation of the campaign of repression of dissent started by his predecessor Carrie Lam.

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