How the Chief Executive of Hong Kong is Selected & Everything About the New Chief Executive


You might have heard of John Lee’s landslide victory to become the next leader of Hong Kong. But did you know he was the only candidate running for the job?

Here’s how the selection process works, and who John Lee is.

What Is the Chief Executive of Hong Kong?

The Chief Executive (CE) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China is, simply put, the head of the Government of Hong Kong.

And yes, Hong Kong is under China. The sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred from the British to China in 1997, so they were never truly independent.

This is why we don’t call the CE the President of Hong Kong, as Hong Kong is considered a mere region of China. Just think of it as how we don’t have a president for each region of Singapore as well.

The CE’s term lasts for five years, with a maximum of two consecutive terms.

The CE must be a Hong Kong permanent resident who is a Chinese citizen, and has lived in Hong Kong for at least 20 years. They must be at least 40 years old as well.

The current CE of Hong Kong is Carrie Lam, who was selected in March 2017. However, the 2022 election was recently concluded, and John Lee is selected to be the next CE.

How Are They Selected? 

If you read the words “2022 election” and thought that this means all Hong Kong citizens got to vote: their elections don’t work the same way as ours.

The Hong Kong-ers don’t get to vote for their leader. Instead, an Election Committee, made of 1500 individuals and representatives from various sectors, will vote for the next leader.

Since 2021, any CE candidate who wishes to run in the elections must first obtain 188 nominations from the Election Committee. They also require nominations by at least 15 members of each sector of the Election Committee.

After successfully getting the nominations, there’ll be a review by the National Security Department on whether the candidate meets all the legal requirements and conditions. They also need to swear allegiance to the HKSAR.

It is only after passing all of these tests that the candidate is considered to be running in the elections. The candidate wins the election if they get an absolute majority of the votes, which is 750 votes.

Additionally, within a week of the election, the CE must publicly disaffiliate with any political party. This means that they will no longer be part of any party during their term.

Who Makes Up The Election Committee?

The Election Committee is made up of five different sectors, with 300 members from each sector.

The first sector is made of members from industrial, commercial and financial backgrounds.


The second sector is representatives from the professions, which include technology, engineering, architecture, accounting, legal, education, sports, performing arts, medicine, and social welfare.

The third sector comprises members from grassroots organisations, labour, agriculture, and religious organisations.

The fourth sector is members of the Legislative Council, district organisations, and other government organisations.

Last but not least, the fifth sector comprises Hong Kong deputies to the Chinese government.

These sectors make up the 1,500 people who vote for the next CE.


Who Were The Choices? 

Since Carrie Lam was only CE for a term, she was eligible for re-election to fulfil the maximum of two consecutive terms.

However, on 4 April, she announced that she will not participate in the elections. She stated that she’s leaving the public service entirely, so that she can spend more time with her family.

Lam had reportedly told the Central People’s Government, AKA China, about her decision to not run for re-election as early as 2021.

Soon after Lam’s announcement, the then-Chief Secretary John Lee decided to resign from his position, announcing that he wants to run in the CE elections. (FYI, the Chief Secretary position is considered the second most powerful position, right after the CE.)

On 6 April, the Beijing Liaison Office informed the Election Committee members that Lee will be the only candidate backed by the Chinese government.

This move by Beijing basically solidified Lee as the next CE, but he still had to go through all the processes. On 13 April, Lee was nominated to be the only candidate in this election, with 786 nominations.


John Lee’s Campaign

Just like any other election, the candidates had to run campaigns to show their plans for the country. Even if this election only had one candidate. 

He unveiled his manifesto on 29 April, which outlined these key ideas:

  • strengthening governance,
  • boosting land and housing supply,
  • improve Hong Kong’s competitiveness,
  • building a caring society, and
  • legislating Hong Kong’s own security law.

He then held an election rally on 6 May, which was only open to invitees and the press. He had the slogan “我和我们” to signify unity.

Election Results

The election was held on 8 May.

Given how you need 750 votes to win the elections, Lee’s position was a guaranteed one. In the elections, he garnered 1,416 votes out of the 1,428 valid votes.


With a 99.44% vote, John Lee officially became the next CE of Hong Kong.

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Who is John Lee? 

So we know how John Lee became the next CE. But who is he prior to this election?

As mentioned, the 64-year-old was the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, which was a position only second to the role of CE.

He had a long history in the public service, as he joined the Royal Hong Kong Police Force when he was just 19 years old. He rose up the ranks to become Deputy Commissioner in 2010.

He was then appointed Under-Secretary for Security in 2012 by then-CE Leung Chun-Ying. In Carrie Lam’s term, he was promoted to Secretary for Security in 2017. In 2021, he became the Chief Secretary.

If you remember the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill, he was one of the key figures pushing for it.

In 2020, he was sanctioned by the United States of America for being a key leader in implementing the Beijing-imposed National Security Law.

For the uninitiated, this law allowed authorities to conduct surveillance, detain, and search people who have committed crimes, which include promoting the separation of Hong Kong from China.


It basically crushed the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, which was in full swing after the introduction of the Extradition Bill. Nearly 150 pro-democracy activists were jailed under this law, with many others fleeing abroad or scared into silence.

This law also led to the disbandment of civil society groups, as well as the shut-down of liberal media outlets.

Chinese authorities have since said that this law was necessary to restore stability in Hong Kong following the 2019 to 2020 protests.

When Will He Take Over? 

John Lee will be taking office on 1 July 2022.

So yes, the new leader of Hong Kong is the one who oversaw the crackdown on democracy movements. I’ll let you interpret how this will play out for Hong Kong’s future.

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Featured Image: / Yung Chi Wai Derek