Hong Kong, July 1 (ANI): John Lee was sworn in on Friday as the sixth-term chief executive of Hong Kong, in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping, a move meant to signal that Beijing has the former British colony well under its control 25 years after taking over.
His oath was administered by Xi, who was here to attend the meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the "motherland" and the inaugural ceremony of the sixth-term government of Hong Kong, Xinhua news agency reported.
In his inauguration speech, Lee expressed gratitude to the central government and the Hong Kong residents for their trust. "I will lead my team to strive to build a more caring and inclusive Hong Kong filled with vibrancy, hope and development opportunities."
He said he will strive to fully and faithfully implement the principles of "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong," and a high degree of autonomy.
He also pledged to safeguard the constitutional order of the city as defined under the Constitution and the Hong Kong Basic Law, to safeguard the country's sovereignty, national security and development interests, and to ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
On 1 July, 1997, Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China (PRC) from the United Kingdom under the conditions set out in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Joint Declaration provides for fundamental rights, a high degree of autonomy and the "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong.
"25 years later, Hong Kong is no longer the city we once recognised," according to Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). The draconian National Security Law, implemented on the 30th June 2020, has been used to punish dissent, curtails protest and freedom of speech and reduce the city's autonomy.
Since the law's adoption, there have been at least 183 arrests made and 113 individuals charged, with more than 50 civil society organisations forced to disband and multiple media outlets ceasing to operate.
"Today we will also see John Lee, the city's new Chief Executive, take office. His selection by Beijing through its 'patriots-only' sham election shows how far Hong Kong's democracy has deteriorated since the advent of the National Security Law. Lee has promised to introduce new legislation to further tighten the PRC government's grip over Hong Kong," IPAC said.
IPAC called for governments around the world to work to hold China accountable under existing legal mechanisms. The group also called upon our governments to impose sanctions on Chief Executive John Lee, and other Chinese and Hong Kong government officials responsible for the erosion of freedom in the city.
"Our governments should also further scrutinise the export of dual-use goods and technologies that can be used for surveillance in Hong Kong and China, and ensure that products made by entities complicit in human rights abuses in Hong Kong and China do not enter our supply chains," IPAC said. (ANI)