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John Lee was returned uncontested in the chief executive election. Photo: Nora Tam

Hong Kong’s next leader John Lee expected to meet President Xi Jinping during visit to Beijing to receive letter of appointment

  • It will be Lee’s first meeting with top leaders since he was returned uncontested in chief executive election on May 8
  • Chief executive-elect will also present names of finalists for his team to the central government for its approval
John Lee
Hong Kong’s incoming leader John Lee Ka-chiu will travel to Beijing with his wife on Saturday to accept the letter officially approving his appointment as chief executive.
During his trip, he was expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and present the names of the finalists for his team to the central government for its approval, sources revealed on Friday.

It will be Lee’s first meeting with top leaders since he was returned uncontested on May 8 with 99.2 per cent of the vote in a small-circle election decided by Beijing loyalists. The State Council approved his appointment on May 20 and he will be sworn in as Hong Kong’s next leader on July 1.

Chinese premier approves John Lee’s appointment as next Hong Kong leader

Confirming an earlier Post report, the chief executive-elect will start his trip to Beijing on Saturday under a “closed-loop” system, meaning he must undergo testing and quarantine, and cannot meet outsiders for part of his stay, according to a source familiar with the plan.

His meeting with state leaders is most likely to happen on Monday after he undergoes quarantine over the weekend.

The source said Lee had been notified about his trip to the capital last week to accept his appointment letter from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and meet Xi.

It has been a regular practice for every chief executive-elect to receive the appointment letter in person from the premier, with separate meetings with the president and other senior officials.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor made the trip in 2017 as did Leung Chun-ying in 2012, both two weeks after winning the election.

Lee is also expected to meet Xia Baolong, director of the cabinet-level Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), and Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature.

As well as Lee’s wife Janet Lam Lai-sim, the chief executive-elect’s private secretary and press secretary will also travel to Beijing. The delegation will return to Hong Kong on Tuesday.

‘Beijing gave John Lee green light for new deputy roles before plan was public’

Wang Linggui, deputy director of the HKMAO, told a legal forum on Friday the coming five years were key for the city to progress from “chaos to sound governance to prosperity” – a reference to the 2019 social unrest followed by the imposition of the national security law – after successfully going through three elections after a Beijing-led overhaul of the system.

Wang said the central government would, as always, firmly support the chief executive and the new administration in governing in accordance with the law. He said he believed the government could unite and lead all sectors of society to forge ahead and turn a new page for Hong Kong’s political security, economic prosperity and social stability.

Chen Dong, deputy director of Beijing’s liaison office in the city, said the “anti-China” activities in 2019 had seriously challenged the bottom line of “one country”, but the situation had changed after the central government took decisive action, including implementing the national security law and ensuring only “patriots” ruled Hong Kong.

“Through a series of measures to address both the symptoms and root causes, Hong Kong has been transformed from chaos to governance, and the bottom line of ‘one country’ has been firmly adhered to, ensuring that the practice of ‘one country, two systems’ is always moving in the right direction,” he told the forum.

The Post earlier reported that the HKMAO and liaison office had exchanged views with Lee on candidate choices for his team in recent weeks.

Sources also pointed to a “very high” likelihood of finance chief Paul Chan Mo-po and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah serving in the next administration.

Under a finalised government reorganisation plan unveiled by Lee, the secretaries for administration, finance and justice will each have a new deputy to help them. The financial secretary will oversee six bureaus, up from four, including two new ones created by splitting the Transport and Housing Bureau.

A Legislative Council subcommittee held a special meeting on Friday and approved the plan, paving the way for the Finance Committee to further scrutinise the blueprint and most likely endorse it on June 10.

The reorganisation, which includes adding 13 politically appointed officials and 57 civil service posts, is projected to cost taxpayers an extra HK$95 million (US$12.1 million) a year. The figure rises to HK$120 million if Mandatory Provident Fund and welfare benefits for officials and related civil servants are included.

Additional reporting by William Zheng and Tony Cheung