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Leung Chun-ying

Hong Kong’s outgoing leader warns city’s autonomy at risk if Beijing doesn’t trust successor

Outgoing chief executive warns city will not enjoy high degree of autonomy if new leader does not have Beijing’s full trust

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 March, 2017, 2:59pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 March, 2017, 4:41pm

Outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying has sent a warning to Hongkongers that the city’s high degree of autonomy is at stake if someone without Beijing’s full trust is elected his successor on Sunday.

Weighing in on the election 24 hours before it is held, Leung also dismissed pan-democrats as turning away from candidates who would be appointed by Beijing in the past.

While Beijing has sent the signal of supporting former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, her rival John Tsang Chun-wah, a former financial secretary, enjoyed overwhelming popular support, which was on full display after a rally in Central attended by thousands on Friday.

Tsang has won near-full backing from pan-democrats, a minority in the 1,194-member Election Committee.

“If the chief executive does not have central authorities’ full trust, Hong Kong will not be able to enjoy a high degree of autonomy,” Leung said on the sidelines of the Boao Forum in Hainan.

“Past experience shows clearly that pan-democrats will direct support away from the candidate who was supported and would be appointed by the central authorities,” Leung, who newly joined the rank of a state leader after being named vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Another CPPCC vice-chairman, former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, gave Lam a high profile hug shortly before she announced her candidacy, a gesture seen as encapsulating Beijing-loyalists’ support for her.