An elite election committee composed of Beijing loyalists chose a new leader Sunday for the 7.3 million people of Hong Kong: Carrie Lam, who is expected to follow the central government’s instructions to the letter. To become Hong Kong’s chief executive, Lam beat out John Tsang, a former finance secretary who enjoyed considerable popularity, according to opinion polls, and Woo Kwok-hing, a retired high court judge who never stood a chance. The three-person ticket was itself the product of tightly controlled, small-circle vetting. “We have a qualified electorate of millions, but I don’t have a vote, and most other people don’t have a vote,” said Anson Chan, who once served as Hong Kong’s top civil servant.
Though a Chinese official said Sunday that Lam “had the support” of Hong Kong’s people, her victory over a popular opponent will almost certainly deepen fear about Beijing’s tightening grip on the Chinese special administrative region and compound frustration that the fight for universal suffrage has stalled.
“This is a selection, not an election,” said Joshua Wong, a former student leader who headed 2014 pro-democracy protests. “Carrie Lam will be a nightmare for us.”
This was the fifth such change in leadership in the 20 years since Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 — and perhaps the most contentious.