Signs hint Beijing shifting on Hong Kong leader
HONG KONG | Just days before Hong Kong’s elite choose the southern Chinese financial hub’s next leader, there are signs that Beijing wants to dump its first choice for the winner as it tries to keep pace with public opinion.
On Sunday, a 1,193-person committee will vote on the semiautonomous region’s next chief executive, while the rest of Hong Kong’s 7.1 million residents have no vote. The committee is made up of business leaders and other elites, most of whom are expected to vote according to Beijing’s wishes.
The man seen early on as Beijing’s preferred candidate, Henry Tang, is a former financial secretary who is deeply unpopular because of a series of gaffes.
There have been hints this week that China’s leaders are switching their backing to his rival, Leung Chun-ying, a former Cabinet member.
A top Communist Party figure recently met with Tang supporters to persuade them to switch sides, and other pro-beijing officials reportedly are working behind the scenes to do the same.
It’s a signal that Beijing thinks it’s important to be on the right side of public opinion even in a race it controls.