HK's likely leader vows to save its competitiveness

STORY: Lee is due to take over as the former British colony's chief executive on July 1, replacing Carrie Lam who is stepping down at the end of her first term. Critics have blamed Lam for mishandling crises including anti-government protests in 2019 and COVID-19.

Lee will take over the Chinese-ruled city amid growing concern in the financial community that its role as an international hub of commerce could be at risk.

The questions have been raised partly because of extended COVID lockdowns but also because of a 2020 national security law that critics, including Western governments, say authorities have used to clamp down on opposition democrats, the media and free speech.

Hong Kong and Chinese officials argue that the law has restored stability to Hong Kong and will safeguard its economic success.

Lee and several other officials were sanctioned by the United States in 2020 over what it said was their role in curbing the city's freedoms under the China-imposed national security law.

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