Top Chinese marks for new HK leader

Victory is sweet, but expected, for the colony's first Chief Executive, writes Stephen Vines

"Now we are finally masters of our own house," said the 59-year- old shipping magnate Tung Chee-hwa yesterday, after he was chosen to head the first post-colonial government in Hong Kong, making him the Chief Executive of the territory once it comes under Chinese rule on 1 July.

One hundred and fifty years of British colonial rule was about to end, he said, and it was up to the people of Hong Kong to "walk the road together".

Mr Tung's road was cleared by Peking. The Chinese made it clear that he was the favoured candidate and devised a selection process in which he won 320 of the 400 votes of the Selection Committee, a body mainly representing big-business interests and Peking's supporters.

The two other candidates in the so-called election, the former Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang and the businessman Peter Woo each got around 10th of the votes won by Mr Tung.

"You are writing the history of Hong Kong," said Qian Qichen, China's vice-premier who presided over yesterday's voting. "I trust you will make your choice with responsibility."

Surrounded by a careful recreation of Peking's Great Hall of the People in the rather more modern surroundings of Hong Kong's convention centre, the committee's members showed they had quickly learned Chinese ways of doing things. The proposals of the Chinese leaders were enthusiastically endorsed by clapping. Discussion was not on the agenda.

Outside the hall a small group of protesters carried a symbolic "tomb of democracy", saying democracy was being killed off by the Selection Committee. "It's not an election by the Hong Kong people," said Cheung Man-kwong, a legislator who joined the demonstration. "It's just an appointment by the Chinese government."

As the voting got under way, 29 people, including the outspoken legislator Emily Lau, and two fellow law-makers, were arrested for causing an obstruction and dragged away, screaming. She was later released and she returned to the Legislative Council to move a motion casting doubt on whether Mr Tung would "have the determination to safeguard a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong and resist the Chinese government's interference".

Meanwhile, government officials, including the Governor Chris Patten, rushed to congratulate Mr Tung. The most effusive greeting came from the Chief Secretary Anson Chan who described the election as a "very happy day". Mrs Chan had been the popular choice for the top post but China considered she was tainted by association with the British administration. Nevertheless she hopes to cling to the number-two post.

Even the Democratic Party, the colony's largest political party, was keen to offer a hand of co-operation to Mr Tung, although it has strongly opposed of the selection process.

Mr Tung and his entourage today crossed the border to Shenzhen where his nomination will be confirmed by the Preparatory Committee, the Chinese body with overall responsibility for preparing the hand-over of power.

The crossing of the border was loaded with symbolism. It showed that real power no longer resides with the British administration in Hong Kong but in China where yesterday the Chinese foreign ministryspokesman rather carelessly referred to Mr Tung as "our Chief Executive".

Now the fanfare is over, Mr Tung will face the formidable task of dealing with new masters who do not speak with one voice. Powerful factions, including provincial interests, the armed forces, the big state companies and the central government, are competing for a slice of the Hong Kong action.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test