Hong Kong’s new leader spent £1.1m on campaign despite being elected unopposed

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Hong Kong’s new leader John Lee received donations worth more than HK$11.3m (£1.2m) during his election campaign this year, official filings released on Monday showed.

Mr Lee was elected unopposed as he was the only candidate for Hong Kong’s top job. He spent around HK$9m on his campaign and most of the funds were spent on advertisements, gatherings, office rent and transportation, according to The Guardian.

The expenses by the former police officer included over 400 advertisements on US-owned social networks as he could not campaign on YouTube and Facebook since he has been suspended from using these services due to US sanctions, reported Bloomberg.

Mr Lee was able to campaign and seek votes ahead of the elections using unique methods even though he did not have access to a bank account, the report added, citing the document released by Hong Kong’s registration and electoral office.

Around HK$2m was spent on social media advertising and around HK$710,000 on security.

Mr Lee’s campaign was funded in donations by 59 pro-Beijing business and community groups, local media reports said. The donations were received in physical cash.

The remaining funds were reportedly donated to local charity, the Community Chest of Hong Kong.

The former security official and a successor of Carrie Lam took office last Friday.

Speaking at his first news conference on Tuesday, Mr Lee promised citizens that he will now work on easing restrictions for travellers while navigating the risks of Covid-19 pandemic.

Calling Hong Kong an “international city”, Mr Lee said he was “conscious” of the need for Hong Kong to remain open and convenient to travellers.

“But it is also important that we address the risks at the same time so that we will maintain good balance,” he added.

The newly elected chief executive said that Hong Kong is bound by a “constitutional duty” to enact a new security law, on top of the previous national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020, which led to suppressing most political dissent and barred many pro-democracy activists.

He added that the city’s situation and levels of security risks will be assessed before the legislation is rolled out.

Mr Lee said that he is “very confident that we will be able to do it well”.

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