Beijing's preferred candidate Carrie Lam wins election

Activists march ahead of vote for Hong Kong leader

When reporters asked Tsang on Sunday whether he thought Beijing had interfered in the selection process, he said he respected the decision of the election committee members. A devout Catholic, she is married to a former mathematician Lam Siu-por in 1984 whom she met during while studying at Cambridge University.

Hundreds of Lam's supporters waved Chinese flags and cheered inside and outside the venue after her win.

Lam took a more low-profile approach during the campaignand didn't engage with the public the way Tsang did.

In the election, former Financial Secretary John Tsang was backed by pro-democracy members on the committee and he received 365 votes.

If taking on the city's tycoon class is too far to go for the new leader, here is another head-turning, heart-changing move she could make that would immediately transform her from villain to hero among most locals: How about tapping into Hong Kong's massive fiscal reserves to create a viable universal pension fund in a rich city where, according to government figures, one in three elderly people live in poverty?

The third, and most liberal candidate, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing received only 21 votes. That is the reason why I cast a blank vote. On one was written a large Chinese character, meaning "fuck". All 60 have said that they will vote for Lam. But on the other, it emboldens the pro-democracy camp that might play a decisive role in the outcome of Hong Kong's leadership contest. In short, the central government is anxious about the uncertainty of the business elites and those 300-odd pan-democratic electors voting en bloc for Tsang, a candidate who is running a "red light". "I'm expecting a resurgence of localism and the pro-independence movement", Mr Ng told The Irish Times.

Hong Kong merged with Chinese mainland in 1997 under the "one country two systems" principle worked out between Britain and China. After the votes were counted, she bowed to the crowd and shook hands with the second-place finisher, former Finance Secretary John Tsang.

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Lam, who won't bend to public opinion, is a staunch supporter of the status quo.

Campaigning intensified after Mr Leung's surprise announcement in December that he would not stand for re-election. She is seen as loyal to China's Communist leaders, although without the polarizing persona of the current leader, Leung Chun-ying. China apparently felt that Mrs Lam would be a less controversial leader, as well as someone who would faithfully implement the party's policies.

Lam is an efficient and pragmatic administrator, but is unpopular with Hong Kongers because she's seen as a proxy for Beijing and out of touch with ordinary people. During the 2014 pro-democracy protests, Lam led the government debaters who faced off on television against the movement's student-activist leaders.

They include the disappearance in 2015 of five Hong Kong booksellers known for publishing salacious titles about China's political elite. But Mrs Lam made it clear that she does not intend to make democratic reform a priority. Take the representatives for religious groups: there are 10 representatives each for Christians, Catholics, Buddhists, Confucians, Taoists, and Muslims-yet only 200,000 people (pdf) identify as Muslim in Hong Kong. "Even though we are talking about secret ballots, most pro-establishment electors attribute a lot of importance to the candidate who can gain the trust of Beijing", Prof Lau told BT.

"I am anxious about the discontent that has emerged in our society", she said in January.

"Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness", Lam said in a victory speech.

Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office welcomed Lam's win in a statement which said she "was trusted by the central government".

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