State councillor gives his backing to the chief executive's bid The chief executive yesterday said he had already secured more than 450 nominations, equating to support from more than half of the 796-member Election Committee for him to stand for re-election. The announcement came as a state leader openly backed Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's bid for a new term. Speaking during a visit with President Hu Jintao to Africa, state councillor Tang Jiaxuan said he firmly believed the public wanted Mr Tsang to win. 'Of course, we support chief executive Tsang and hope he would have a smooth victory,' he said. 'I think this is in line with the wishes of the people at large. This is my firm belief and I do not have any doubt about this.' Mr Tang is the most senior central government official yet to declare support for Mr Tsang's campaign. He praised Mr Tsang for his platform. 'I personally think what he said is very correct. It suits Hong Kong's actual situation and is fully in line with the Basic Law.' A spokesman for Mr Tsang's challenger, Alan Leong Kah-kit of the Civic Party, said it was understandable the central government was concerned about the election. But he said Beijing should have confidence in the way people chose their chief executive. Concluding his question sessions at a hotel in Admiralty, Mr Tsang said he had not set out a target figure for nominations. In 2005, he said he would strive to win every possible nomination in a controversial strategy to knock out any challenger. He secured support from 710 Election Committee members, formally submitting 674 nominations, as the status of some committee members was dubious at the time, and succeeded Tung Chee-hwa without a contest. Candidates must secure 100 nominations to run. Mr Leong's nominations remained at 113 yesterday. Mr Tsang said he had gained enormous confidence in his campaign following his meetings with the voters. But he also conceded there had been dissenting views towards his platforms. Former Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat quoted Mr Tsang as telling a closed-door forum yesterday that life was short and it would be a great achievement in his political career if he could resolve the constitutional reform problem in his new term. Mr Tsang would not confirm these comments, but believed an early solution to the constitutional reform issue would provide a better atmosphere for developments on other fronts. He promised that if the pan-democrats could agree on one proposal, he would include this along with the other main proposals in a green paper for public consultation later this year. Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang yesterday declined to give Mr Leong her clear backing, saying she would wait for a few more weeks.