BEIJING — On Sunday, less than 1,200 mostly pro-Beijing elites chose a new leader for the 7.3 million people of Hong Kong: Carrie Lam, a Beijing loyalist 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 Kok-hing, a retired high court judge who never stood a chance. The three-person ticket was itself the product of a 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.
Lam’s landslide win over a popular opponent will 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 led the 2014 pro-democracy protests “Carrie Lam will be a nightmare for us.”
This was the fifth such “selection” in the twenty years since Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 — and perhaps the most contentious.
Under a political compromise known as “One country, two systems,” the territory was promised a “high degree of autonomy,” including the right to elect their leader by 2017.
Many Hong Kong people believe Beijing broke its word. Instead of getting more autonomous and democratic, critics argue, Hong Kong is increasingly being strong-armed by cadres in Beijing.
“We have been waiting for 20 years now and the electoral law is still not fair or democratic,” said Martin Lee, a veteran pro-democracy campaigner.
“Beijing has tried to rule Hong Kong by controlling us.”
“One country, two systems “has always been an unhappy compromise, one that pits the People’s…