|5th Chief Executive of Hong Kong|
|Assumed office |
1 July 2022
|Preceded by||Carrie Lam|
|8th Chief Secretary for Administration|
25 June 2021 – 7 April 2022
|Chief Executive||Carrie Lam|
|Preceded by||Matthew Cheung|
|Succeeded by||Eric Chan|
|5th Secretary for Security|
1 July 2017 – 25 June 2021
|Chief Executive||Carrie Lam|
|Preceded by||Lai Tung-kwok|
|Succeeded by||Chris Tang|
|2nd Under Secretary for Security|
1 October 2012 – 1 July 2017
|Preceded by||Lai Tung-kwok|
|Succeeded by||Sonny Au|
December 1957 (age 64)
British Hong Kong
|Education||Wah Yan College Kowloon|
|Alma mater||Charles Sturt University (MPPA)|
|Department||Hong Kong Police Force|
|Rank||Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management)|
John Lee Ka-chiu GBM SBS PDSM PMSM (Chinese: 李家超; born December 1957) is a Hong Kong politician and former police officer who is the 5th and current Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
Originally as a police officer, Lee served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force from 2010 to 2012. He was appointed Under Secretary of Security by Leung Chun-ying in 2012. After Carrie Lam became Chief Executive in 2017, he was promoted to Secretary for Security. In 2021, he succeeded Matthew Cheung as Chief Secretary for Administration, a post which he served until 2022. Lee is known as being a hardliner against the pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong, having played a key role in the crackdown of the opposition.
As the sole candidate approved by China in the 2022 Hong Kong Chief Executive election, Lee was chosen as Hong Kong's next Chief Executive, taking office 1 July 2022. His selection was seen as a move by the Chinese government to focus further on security and further integrate Hong Kong with the mainland.
In 1980, John Lee married Janet Lam at a young age, with whom he has two sons, Gilbert Lee Man-lung and Lee Man-chun. Lee did not attend university after secondary school.
On 15 August 1977, at the age of 19, Lee joined the Royal Hong Kong Police Force as a probationary inspector. He became a Chief Inspector on 11 May 1984. He became Chief Superintendent in 1997, Assistant Commissioner in 2003, senior assistant commissioner in 2007 and Deputy Commissioner in 2010. Having served in a wide range of operational duties, including the CID, Complaints Against Police, Service Quality, Personnel, Training, Information Systems, Finance, Policies Formulation, Planning and Development, Lee had been the Commander of Kowloon West Region, Assistant Commissioner (Crime) and Director of Crime and Security, and Deputy Commissioner (Management).
During his tenure as a police officer, Lee obtained a master's degree in Public Policy and Administration from Charles Sturt University in Australia under a self-learning programme sponsored by the force.
Lee was appointed Under Secretary for Security in 2012 by chief executive Leung Chun-ying and promoted to Secretary for Security in July 2017 in Carrie Lam's administration.
In 2019, Lee played a key role in the push for the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill.[clarification needed]
On 3 July 2020, the Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency stated that the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was formally established. There were 10 members of the committee. As the Secretary for Security of Hong Kong, Lee was a member of the committee.
In October 2020, Lee told Shenzhen Satellite TV in an interview that he was thankful for Beijing pushing through the National Security Law.
In December 2020, Lee defended the freezing of bank accounts belonging to former Democratic Party legislator Ted Hui, and said that other bank accounts, including those of suspect's relatives, could be frozen if they were believed to be related to a crime.
In January 2021, after the arrest of 53 pro-democracy figures, Lee stated to the Legislative Council that they were arrested for "subverting state power". Lee also stated that "The Security Bureau strongly reaffirms and fully supports the Police's operation, which is resolute and professional." In addition, Lee stated that the opposition figures' attempts were "evil" and meant to "overthrow" the government.
On 15 January 2021, Lee said that the new National Security Law would include police surveillance of communications, potentially giving the police more power to intercept and read communications.
In April 2021, Lee said that Hong Kong's disciplined services would adopt PLA-style goose step marching in order to demonstrate "nationalistic sentiments" and to "strengthen awareness of national security". In July 2022, Lee as Chief Executive said that "This time, we've comprehensively adopted the Chinese-style marching, which fully reflects the police's national identity and sense of belonging to the country, and also represents a solemn commitment to the trust bestowed by the nation, and loyalty to the country".
On 25 June 2021, the HKSAR Government announced that the State Council has on the recommendation of the Chief Executive appointed Lee as Chief Secretary for Administration, making him the third former police officer after William Caine, the founding head of the Hong Kong Police Force who served as Colonial Secretary from 1846 to 1854, and Francis Henry May, Captain Superintendent of the Police Force from 1893 to 1901 and Colonial Secretary from 1902 to 1911, to have served in the second-highest governmental position in Hong Kong.
In January 2022, after the arrest of employees from Stand News, Lee said that US media groups should support law enforcement, claiming that "If you are genuinely interested in press freedom, you should support actions against people who have unlawfully exploited the media as a tool to pursue their political or personal gains".
On 4 March 2022, Lee invoked emergency regulation to announce the construction of a bridge linking Hong Kong with Shenzhen; however, satellite images showed that construction appeared to have began 5 days before Lee had invoked the emergency regulation. The border is drawn at the halfway point in the Shenzhen River, and photos show that a barge was on the Hong Kong side on 27 February 2022. On the day of the emergency regulation was announced, photos show that the bridge was past the halfway point on Hong Kong's side, extending just meters away from Hong Kong land.
On 6 April 2022, Lee resigned and planned to join the 2022 Chief Executive election. His resignation was approved by the State Council of China on the following day.
See also: Lee government
Main article: 2022 Hong Kong Chief Executive election
Lee was the sole candidate who had the blessing of CCP leader Xi Jinping's central government in the 2022 Hong Kong Chief Executive election, communicated by the Liaison Office. Lee formally announced his candidacy for the 2022 Hong Kong Chief Executive election on 9 April 2022 despite the Liaison Office having said that Lee would be the only candidate given permission by Beijing to be Chief Executive three days earlier. Lee's campaign manager, Tam Yiu-chung, revealed that Lee would develop a political manifesto by the end of April. Tam later claimed that the political manifesto would not be key for the public to support Lee. Lee dismissed criticism that Election Committee members were nominating him without seeing his manifesto, claiming that the Election Committee members already knew him and could trust him.
On 12 April 2022, Lee stated that implementing security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law would be a top priority for him. Lee later said in July 2022 that he preferred not to rush the law, which some saw as backtracking on his election pledge. The legislation was put on the back burner and was not scheduled for Legislative Council discussion in 2022.
Despite having no competitors in the election, Lee said that the election run was "not easy".
FactWire reported that Lee's two sons (Gilbert Lee and Jacky Lee) have business relationships with Election Committee members, but Lee said there was no conflict of interest. In the report, FactWire said that Gilbert Lee's direct manager is Diana Ferreira Cesar, who sits on the finance subsector of the Election Committee. Additionally, Jacky Lee is a business partner of Li Sing-tui, an ex-officio member of the Election Committee.
For Lee's election forum, seven media stations will cohost the broadcast, with one politician criticizing plans for it, stating that questions are restricted, with no audience member interaction, and the forum being pre-recorded rather than live.
Lee will be the third Hong Kong leader with a police background, the others being William Caine and Sir Francis Henry May, who served as acting Governor and Governor of Hong Kong, respectively.
Lee violated the Election Ordinance by submitting late paperwork, but was exempted from penalty in August 2022.
In April 2022, Lee said that there was no need to defend freedom of the press, claiming that it already exists. In contrast, a poll done by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) interviewed 1,004 people from April 2022 and showed that citizens' satisfaction with freedom of the press had dropped to a new record low.
On 22 September 2022, Lee told "patriotic" journalists at an event to "deliver Hong Kong's latest developments and correct message." Lee warned journalists to distance themselves from "bad elements" that "destroy press freedom," and also said freedom of speech and press were "adequately protected" by the Basic Law. Lee also warned journalists to stay away from unnamed "camouflaged media," to which Ronson Chan, head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, said "Making such a serious accusation without naming the organisations is not a responsible practice."
A survey released on 23 September 2022 showed that faith in press freedom had dropped to a record low, with 93% of respondents citing the government as the source of suppression.
In June 2022, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, the Beijing government's office that manages policy around Hong Kong, specifically said that it hoped Lee would tackle the deep-rooted issue of housing in Hong Kong, with more explicit targets, more courage, and more action. On 1 July 2022, CCP general secretary Xi Jinping also made affordable housing a priority for Lee's government. On 3 July 2022, Lee said that if the housing supply did not meet targets, both civil servants and government leaders would be responsible.
Lee received the appointment from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on 30 May 2022 and the cabinet he nominated was approved by the State Council of China on 19 June. He was officially sworn in on the 1 July 2022. 
Lee was the sole approved candidate, and of 1,461 Election Committee voters, 8 rejected him, 4 cast blank ballots, and 33 did not vote.
On 5 July 2022 in his first ever weekly news conference as the Chief Executive, Lee said that Hong Kong would look into easing COVID-19 health protocols, shortening the quarantine period in particular. However, he also stressed the aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and hospitals from being overwhelmed. He also expressed his awareness for Hong Kong to remain open and convenient to travellers but the risks posed by the pandemic should also be taken into considerations at the same time. In addition, he revealed that he had instructed Secretary of Health Lo Chung-mau to consider the possibility of the move.
Lee has met with mainland Chinese authorities multiple times to discuss COVID-19 and reopening the Hong Kong - mainland China border without quarantine, both as Chief Secretary and Chief Executive. In September 2021, he led a delegation to Shenzhen for a meeting. He did so again in November 2021, and again in February 2022. In August 2022, Lee said that he has had "good dialogue" on fully reopening the border, without providing an estimate on when the border would be opened. In August 2022, Lee was scheduled for another meeting with authorities in mainland China, but did not elaborate on the reopening plan or timetable, saying that "It is better to announce the details when we have reached a certain stage of agreement, otherwise the information will be confusing." Lee cancelled his physical trip on 31 August 2022 and opted for a videoconference instead, and said "We will discuss the cross-border arrangement for residents in Hong Kong and mainland China and I hope that, after thorough discussion, a consensus can be reached." Lee also said "Of course, during our discussion, we will weigh out different options" and "we will actively consider any options."
On 1 September 2022, Lee announced after his videoconference that people would be allowed to "reverse quarantine" in Hong Kong for 7 days before traveling to Guangzhou. Asked about quarantine-free travel to mainland China, Lee said "This proposal of doing quarantine in Hong Kong so as to fulfil the seven-plus-three requirement in Shenzhen is in no replacement of other measures that we always try to seek so as to allow more convenience in allowing people to travel from Hong Kong to the mainland."
On 6 September 2022, Lee denied that government officials were in disagreement over pandemic measures with Bloomberg reporting that some officials hoped to end quarantine by November 2022. On 12 September 2022, SCMP reported that Hong Kong's health experts had been issued clear rules by Lee's administration, stating that they should not express conflicting opinion's against the government's official positions. This came after the government's Covid-19 Expert Advisory Panel, composed of six medical specialists, had several members who suggested gradually lifting COVID-19 restrictions, including removing hotel quarantine by November 2022.
On 8 September 2022, Lee's administration announced that children as young as 5 years old would need to be vaccinated to eat in restaurants; it is one of the few places in the world that requires vaccination for children. A study released in October 2022 showed that 85% of parents in Hong Kong disagree with vaccinating their children.
On 13 September 2022, Lee held a press conference, where he addressed concerns that people coming from mainland China to Hong Kong did not need to be vaccinated. Lee stated that mainland China had few cases and did not pose a risk, though Hong Kong averaged between 8,000-10,000 cases per day; Lee did not address the risk of unvaccinated mainland Chinese catching COVID-19 while in Hong Kong. A day later on 14 September 2022, lawmaker Michael Tien criticized the lack of mandatory vaccination for those coming from mainland China, saying that the lack of vaccination could increase their risk of infection in Hong Kong and place strain on the city's healthcare system. Another doctor, Joseph Tsang Kay-yan, chairman of the Medical Association's advisory committee on communicable diseases, echoed Tien's comments against what Lee said, stating "The risk of travellers from the mainland getting Covid in Hong Kong is high. They need to balance this. If they are infected here, will they occupy our public healthcare system? Will it tighten the supply of isolation wards?" On 16 September 2022, the government backtracked on Lee's statement and announced that arrivals from mainland China, Macau, and Taiwan would need to be vaccinated in order to receive a vaccine pass.
Lee also vowed to host a "successful financial summit" in November 2022 and that reducing quarantine would require more data. During the press conference on 13 September 2022, Lee warned against comparing the flu against COVID-19, claiming that COVID-19 was 6 times more deadly than the flu, and stating that the situation was still "critical." A day later, medical experts disagreed with Lee's data and estimated COVID-19's fatality rate at 0.098%, lower than the 0.1% recorded for the flu. Dr. Joseph Tsang Kay-yan also mentioned that the death rate of 0.098% could be even lower in reality, due to citizens not reporting their infections, plus an accounting difference, where people who die with COVID-19 are counted as a COVID-19 death, even if the underlying cause of death was not due to COVID-19.
In September 2022, the Hong Kong Association of Athletics Affiliates, organizer of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2022 issued an ultimatum to the government, stating that they would have to cancel the marathon if there were no government approval by 16 September 2022. The date passed without government approval and the event was cancelled; Lee later said "we feel disappointed that the organizer made the decision before the government's reply."
On 20 September 2022, Huang Liuquan, an official at the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, made a speech which the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies interpreted as Beijing granting Lee permission to open Hong Kong's international borders.
On 21 September 2022, Lee said that Hong Kong is a "highly open, international city in the Greater Bay Area", though SCMP noted that the region has been mostly cut off from the outside world since early 2020 due to travel restrictions. Frederick Ma Si-hang, a former Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, also called Hong Kong "isolated."
On 23 September 2022, Lee said Hong Kong was still aligned with the "dynamic zero-Covid" strategy. A day later, the Centre for Health Protection said Hong Kong is unlikely to achieve zero-Covid.
On 1 October 2022, Lee said Hong Kong would not "lie flat" when fighting COVID-19. On 8 October 2022, Lee said that differences of opinion should not detract from fighting the virus.
On 11 October 2022, reporters pointed out that the third-jab rate in Hong Kong and Singapore were similar with Singapore having dropped many COVID-19 measures compared to Hong Kong, but Lee said he would not compare anti-epidemic efforts between the two cities due to differences in healthcare systems and culture, and would continue to hold steady on Hong Kong's "0+3" scheme for inbound travelers.
In July 2022, Lee said that the government would spare no effort to enhance patriotic education, and said that national identity and nationalism would need to be fostered to students from an early age. In August 2022, Lee said that schools must teach students to respect and safeguard national security. In September 2022, Lee said that teachers would be required to "be cautious" about their conduct, set a "sense of national identity" with students, and also emphasized that "Newly appointed teachers in all public sector schools will be required to pass the Basic Law Test."
In August 2022, after Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, Lee said "According to media reports, when Nancy Pelosi was in Taiwan, she ignored the successful implementation of One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong and maliciously criticised Hong Kong's democracy and freedom." Later, Lee endorsed a document Beijing published called "The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era". Lee and other government officials were criticized by Lew Mon-hung for "crossing the line" with his statements on Taiwan, as the Basic Law stipulates that diplomatic affairs of Hong Kong are to be handled by mainland China's Foreign Ministry.
According to analysis of government press releases, Lee did not hold a press conference for 7 straight weeks, the longest break of any Chief Executive in more than 10 years.
On 1 October 2022, Lee said that Xi Jinping's speech on 1 July 2022 would provide the blueprint for his cabinet's governance.
During his election campaign, Lee promised to release "key performance indicators" and initial ideas on alleviating public housing wait times within his first 100 days in office. On 8 October 2022, the first 100 days had been reached, and Lee had not yet made public announcements on either promise.
Lee's wife and two children hold U.K. citizenship, and therefore Lee is eligible to claim U.K. citizenship as well. Lee himself had U.K. citizenship until 2012, when he relinquished it in order to take the Under Secretary for Security position.
Lee married his wife, Janet Lam Lai-sim, after their elder son, Gilbert Lee Man-lung, was born. Both Gilbert Lee and the younger son, Jacky Lee Man-chun, attended Wah Yan College. In June 1990, John was nominated by then-12-years-old son and won the "Top 10 Modern Fathers".
Lee was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong SAR Government in 2017.
In 2021, Lee had surgery to remove plane warts from his neck.
He has a domestic helper, who in February 2022, tested positive for COVID-19.
When asked in April 2022, Lee did not respond to questions on whether he is Catholic. The following month, he said that he is Catholic.
He is nicknamed "Pikachu" by the Hong Kong anti-establishment faction, as it sounds similar to his Cantonese name "Lee Ka-chiu".
According to his August 2022 declaration of interests, Lee is a "Distinguished Member" of the Hong Kong Club.
In August 2020, Lee and ten other officials were sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury under Executive Order 13936 by President Trump for undermining Hong Kong's autonomy. He owns a flat at King's Park Villa in Ho Man Tin, bought in 1997 for HK $12.5 million and fully paid off, eliminating possible issues from his bank and the US sanctions.
On 14 October 2020, Lee was listed on a United States Department of State report as one of 10 individuals who materially contributed to the failure of China to meet its obligations under the Sino–British Joint Declaration and Hong Kong's Basic Law.
On 20 April 2022, Lee's YouTube account for his Chief Executive bid, johnlee2022, was removed by Google as they justified that "the move was required by US sanctions" against the ex-security chief. His Facebook and Instagram pages were still functional, but their payment feature was disabled by Meta, who operates the two social media platforms, for reasons similar to Google's. The suspension of Lee's YouTube account was condemned by Foreign Ministry of China spokesperson Wang Wenbin, who accused "certain US companies" of being "political tools" for the U.S. government.
In October 2022, Lee said of the US sanctions that "It is a very barbaric act and I am not going to comment on the effect of such barbaric act" and "We will just laugh off the so-called sanctions."
The European Parliament began the examination in June 2022 whether Lee is set to be sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act.