Hong Kong chooses China-backed leader

Hong Kong chooses China-backed leader

HONG KONG - Reuters
Hong Kong chooses China-backed leader

AFP photo

A Beijing-backed civil servant, Carrie Lam, was chosen to be Hong Kong’s next leader on March 26 amid accusations that Beijing is meddling and denying the financial hub a more populist leader perhaps better able to defuse political tension.

The majority of the China-ruled city’s 7.3 million people have no say in deciding their leader, who is chosen from among several candidates by a 1,200-person “election committee” stacked with pro-Beijing and pro-establishment loyalists.

Lam, who will become Hong Kong’s first female chief executive when she takes office on July 1, won 777 votes compared with 365 for her closest rival, former financial secretary John Tsang, who polls show is more popular.

There were several invalid protest ballots including one that carried an obscenity.

“Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness,” Lam said in a victory speech. “My priority will be to heal the divide and to ease the frustration, and to unite our society to move forward.”

Lam also pledged to follow through on election promises including introducing a “two-tier” profits tax, reducing tax to spur research and development, tackling the high cost of housing by increasing land supply and boosting education spending.

She also promised to defend the rule of law and freedom of expression as integral to underpinning prosperity. “Hong Kong needs new thinking,” she said. 

Some scuffles broke out outside the voting center between protesters and police, who used metal barricades to keep the demonstrations well away.