What China's Talking About Today: Hong Kong's Election

By Massoud Hayoun

The Beijing-backed candidate wins, prompting talk of elections and "One Country, Two Systems."

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New Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying celebrates after winning his election / Reuters


Leung Chun-ying, allegedly Beijing's preferred candidate, won the election for Hong Kong's next chief executive on Sunday. Leung was voted into office with 689 of a total 1,132 valid ballots from the Region's election committee.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is believed to have supported Leung, after commenting earlier this month that Hong Kong should select a head of government with "the support of the vast majority of Hong Kongers." At the time, Leung had earned 55 percent in popularity polls, largely by promising to address the needs of Hong Kong's poor.

Leung has served as the secretary-general of the Region's Basic Law Consultative Committee, which has been instrumental in easing Hong Kong back into Chinese control since the 1997 handover from British rule. His traditionally pro-Beijing stance has provoked the ire of some Hong Kong legislators and democracy activists.

News of Leung's win spanned roughly a million micro-blogs on Sina Weibo, largely from Mainland users, in little under a day.  

The Weibo community heralded Leung's rise to power as a win for the common people in a region dominated by investment bankers and business tycoons. Leung grew up in low-income housing and has reportedly used the same briefcase since his days as a student in 1975.

"In addition to his charm and capabilities, part of the reason why Leung won is because Hong Kong people have respect for ordinary people who make a big success," wrote one user, in Sichuan province.

The Democracy Report

Mainland news media echoed praise for Leung. The "new SAR leader reaffirms faith in 'One Country, Two Systems,'" according to a front-page article from China Daily. "Two Systems" is an allusion to Deng Xiaoping's idea that, when China is ultimately unified, the Mainland government should remain under Communist Party rule while Hong Kong -- and Taiwan -- could maintain their more capitalist and democratic systems.

A few Mainlanders seemed more interested in addressing the "Two Systems" model than Beijing's triumph over less friendly candidates.

User 12-Kevin expressed resentment for the precious, few inhabitants of the Special Autonomous Region, where people enjoy free elections.

"#Hong Kong's Leung Chun-ying wins chief executive-ship# Hong Kong people are so lucky, they can have open, transparent, just elections for their leaders. Jealousy and envy."

Although Leung was elected to office by an election committee in 2012, authorities have pledged to push for Hong Kong's universal suffrage in 2017.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/what-chinas-talking-about-today-hong-kongs-election/255047/