Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said last night she was willing to support any chief executive candidates ready to defend the freedoms and interests of Hong Kong. Speaking on her return from a visit to Australia last night, Mrs Chan said she was glad about the trust in her expressed by Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang on Saturday. Sir Ti Liang said he hoped Mrs Chan would stay on in the post if he became the chief executive. Analysts said the support of Mrs Chan, the top aide of Governor Chris Patten and head of the civil service, would be crucial in the race for the top post. Mrs Chan, the overwhelming favourite for the post in public opinion polls, said she would support any candidate as long as he was able to maintain the confidence of the public and the civil service. 'I will support anyone who can defend the freedoms and interests of Hong Kong and implement the policy of 'one country, two systems' and a high degree of autonomy,' she said. 'I very much hope that the chief executive will be one with leader capability, command authority and prestige, and acceptable and respected by the people of Hong Kong and the civil service,' Mrs Chan said. In Beijing, the mainland's Vice-Premier Qian Qichen said at a Chinese National Day reception the establishment of the 400-member Selection Committee would be the first time Hong Kong people had been given 'genuine democracy'. 'It is an important step to realise the policy of 'Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong',' he said.