Hong Kong’s new government retains finance chief as sign of continuity

HONG KONG, June 19 (Reuters) – China on Sunday unveiled new senior officials in Hong Kong under new leader John Lee, who pledged to lift the global financial hub to new heights, while brushing aside concerns about the sanctions that the United States imposed on him. .

In a sign of continuity for the financial industry, which had been watching the appointment closely, Finance Secretary Paul Chan, who is free from US sanctions, is to retain his post in the Chinese-ruled territory.

Hong Kong’s new justice secretary will be Paul Lam, replacing Teresa Cheng, while Eric Chan will become the new chief secretary, or No. 2 official, the official Xinhua News Agency and the territory’s government said. .

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Lee, the former deputy chief of Hong Kong, will be sworn in to replace chief executive Carrie Lam on July 1, a day after her five-year term ends.

Lam oversaw one of the territory’s most tumultuous times, with pro-democracy protests, a sweeping new national security law and the fight against the coronavirus.

“The next five years will be a crucial period for Hong Kong to move from stability to prosperity,” Lee told a news conference.

“We will be proactive in earning the trust of the people… My team and I will meet the challenges that lead Hong Kong.”

Some Hong Kong media said President Xi Jinping is expected to attend Lee’s swearing-in ceremony in Hong Kong, but it has not been confirmed whether senior mainland leaders will attend.

A former career policeman, Lee is expected to prioritize security issues, after pushing for new legislation to fully implement the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020. read more

US sanctions have targeted him and other Hong Kong and Chinese officials for what Washington has called their role in restricting Hong Kong’s freedoms under the security law.

“Some bullying countries have tried to use sanction measures to scare off those responsible,” Lee said. “It makes us more persistent in continuing to maintain national security.”

The United States also imposed sanctions on Eric Chan, who will be Lee’s deputy.

Authorities in Hong Kong and China deny that individual rights are being eroded and say the security legislation was needed to restore stability after protracted unrest in 2019.

Lam, the new justice secretary, has served as a deputy judge in the city’s high court since 2015.

A British colony until 1997, Hong Kong is on high alert as COVID-19 infections surge to over 1,000, although there are no signs of tighter restrictions yet before the taking the oath.

Its measures are still among the strictest, with at least a week of quarantine in hotels for foreign visitors and mandatory daily tests for tens of thousands of people.

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Reporting by Farah Master and Donny Kwok; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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