Beijing has picked its favourite for Hong Kong's new leader, and it's Henry Tang Ying-yen. Tang, pictured, is facing a storm of criticism over heavy-handed security imposed for a visit to Hong Kong by vice-premier, Li Keqiang , last month, a report said on Tuesday. Tang is the current chief secretary. He saw his ratings plummet after police used pepper spray to break up a largely peaceful protest rally, and arresting 231 people, during Li's visit. Tang dismissed as 'complete rubbish' the criticism that the security arrangements violated human rights. A source close to senior mainland officials said on Tuesday that Tang, 58, would top other candidates vying to succeed Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, whose term ends next year. Tang, who is Tsang's second-in-command, joined the government in 2002 as commerce minister, moving up the ranks to become financial secretary and then chief secretary in 2007. 'The decision was made on the recommendation of the Communist Party's leading group on Hong Kong and Macau affairs,' the source said. 'The central government prefers Tang as the next chief executive because he enjoys support from most civil servants.' Tang would be Hong Kong's third post-handover leader. His reported appointment comes after critics also called for the ouster of Hong Kong's police chief, claiming authorities used excessive force to keep protesters away from Li, who is himself slated to be China's next premier. Rights groups in Hong Kong have accused police of violating the right to assembly in the incident. In recent years, activists have expressed concerns over the city's lower tolerance of dissent, including the denial of entry to high-profile critics of China such as 1989 Tiananmen Square student protest leader Wang Dan. Meanwhile, Executive Council convenor, Leung Chun-ying, resigned on Tuesday because he wants to run in the election for chief executive in March. In a few days' time, Leung will leave Exco to officially launch his campaign. Tang is also expected to resign over the next few days. Leung's resignation comes as no surprise, but might make things awkward for Beijing as it seems he is not willing to give up the fight.