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Hong Kong elects its top official

March 26, 2017 - CHINA

The Electoral Committee votes for the Hong Kong Chief Executive, the most important politician of the semi-autonomous territory. The leading candidates appear little inclined to challenge Beijing's tight control over Hong Kong or to fight for the universal suffrage that pro-democracy activists seek.

Lawmaker and former minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing are regarded as the pro-Beijing candidates for the job. Legislator Leung Kwok-hung is the one pro-democracy candidate. The winner will replace incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who, after only one term, announced he would not seek re-election.

The majority of the 70-member Electoral Committee are not subject to popular vote and are widely believed to be under the control of Beijing.

There were huge street protests and blockades in late 2014, when Beijing ruled out open nominations for the 2017 Chief Executive election. The Occupy Central and Yellow Umbrella movement brought the commercial district of the city to a standstill. The yellow umbrellas might be everywhere on the streets ahead of the vote, but there is no sign that the authorities will change the plan.

Nominally, under the arrangement known as One Country, Two Systems, the city is free to govern itself. But under Hong Kong's strange mix of authoritarianism and corporatism, the general public votes on only half of the seats in the city legislature, with many of the remaining seats decided by corporations, and all candidates overtly approved by Beijing. Time Magazine reports that Chinese legal figures have previously warned those advocating independence or self-determination for Hong Kong that they face arrest on charges of sedition.

Hong kong timeline (BBC)

Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution Isn't Over Yet (NYT February 18, 2016)

Some say Xi Jinping has won in Hong Kong. I doubt if that's how he sees it (BBC December 12, 2014)

Hong Kong (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Hong Kong's Election Results Have Been Slammed in Mainland Chinese Media (Time 6 Sep 2016)

Date written/update: 2017-02-17