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Hong Kong's Martin Lee (Int'l Edition)

Asian Cover -- Policymakers

HONG KONG'S MARTIN LEE (int'l edition)

With his stunning victory in Hong Kong's May elections, Martin Lee, 60, has become a historic figure: He's the first genuine opposition leader on Chinese soil in modern history. A year ago, Beijing booted the chairman of the Democratic party and his allies from the Legislative Council. Now, with an overwhelming majority of the popular vote, they're back.

Lee, a straitlaced barrister with an owlish demeanor, is sure to change the dynamics of post-handover Hong Kong. In areas from the economy to the legal system, he is determined to force accountability on the Beijing-appointed Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa. Even though the Democrats won the popular vote, Hong Kong's electoral system gives them just a fraction of the legislative seats. "The watchdogs won, but the lapdogs are in control," says Lee with typical bluntness.

By speaking out forcefully for democracy and the rule of law, Lee provides a compelling argument that freedom of speech in Hong Kong is surviving Chinese rule. That should help instill confidence in Hong Kong's future.

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