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Friday, May 27, 2022

Western multinationals congratulate Hong Kong's new leader

Western multinationals congratulate Hong Kong's new leader

Western multinationals and local tycoons published newspaper adverts on Monday congratulating John Lee on becoming Hong Kong's next leader.
Lee, 64, a former security chief who oversaw the crackdown on Hong Kong's democracy movement, was anointed the business hub's new leader on Sunday in a near unanimous vote by a small committee of Beijing loyalists.

Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po, two newspapers that answer to the office which sets Beijing's Hong Kong policy, were filled with adverts on Monday from leading companies and business figures praising Lee's selection.

The majority were from Chinese and Hong Kong businesses as well as community organisations.

The "Big Four" accountancy firms -- KPMG, Deloitte, EY and PwC -- were among western multinationals placing adverts, as were city carrier Cathay Pacific and conglomerates Swire and Jardine Matheson.

Messages were also carried by Hong Kong's family tycoon-dominated property giants including Sun Hung Kai and Henderson Land Development.

Western businesses have found themselves in an increasingly precarious position in Hong Kong, especially as geopolitical tensions have risen with China.

Many have embraced progressive political causes in western markets, such as the anti-racism Black Lives Matter movement, same sex equality and ridding supply chains of labour abuses.

But they usually steer clear of any criticism of China's policies towards hotspots like Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan.

Some companies such as HSBC, Standard Chartered, Swire and Jardine Matheson publicly backed Beijing's national security law, which was imposed on Hong Kong after 2019's democracy protests to curb dissent.

After the 2019 rallies Beijing responded with a crackdown and a new "patriots only" political vetting system that eradicated the city's once outspoken political opposition.

Lee faced no rivals and won 99 percent of the votes cast by the 1,461-strong committee that picks the city's leader -- roughly 0.02 percent of the city's population. Beijing hailed the process as "a real demonstration of democratic spirit".

European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell countered that the selection process was a "violation of democratic principles and political pluralism".
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