Hong Kong leader John Lee warns of ‘resistance’ on handover anniversary

Hong Kong leader John Lee conveyed the city must watch out for “destructive forces involving in soft resistance” as it notes the 26th anniversary of its handover from British to Chinese rule on Saturday. Britain surrendered the long-time colony to China in 1997 under a 50-year governance model known as “one nation, two systems”, which promised important freedoms and a measure of autonomy. These rights – such as the freedom of assembly – set Hong Kong apart from the mainland, and July 1 was once a day of demonstrations for the city’s outspoken civil society. But following huge and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019, China enforced a sweeping national security law that – when merged with legal changes putting “patriots” in charge – effectively got rid of most forms of dissent from Hong Kong life.

On Saturday, ex-security chief turned chief executive John Lee said Hong Kong was “hugely stable” now, but was still being focused by nations that are against China’s growth. “There are also catastrophic forces involving in soft resistance hidden within Hong Kong,” Mr Lee conveyed during a speech at an event marking the anniversary. Still, health experts conveyed the city saw some of the world’s top level coronavirus death rates – mostly because of less vaccination, especially among the jab-hesitant elderly – when the super-infectious Omicron variant broke through its defences in late 2021.