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Hong Kong’s New Leader to be Chosen Sunday

Hong Kong Chief Executive candidates, from left, John Tsang, Carrie Lam and Woo Kwok Hing attend TV Debate.
Hong Kong’s New Leader to be Chosen Sunday
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An electoral committee will meet on Sunday to choose a new chief executive for Hong Kong.

That person will serve for five years.

Most of the committee’s almost 1,200 members are loyal to the Chinese leadership in Beijing. They are expected to support Carrie Lam, China’s choice for chief executive. Her opponent, John Tsang, is more popular with people in Hong Kong.

However, some observers believe the committee is divided. Many people are wondering what effect the election results might have on calls for political reform.

The British returned control of Hong Kong to China 20 years ago. Today the former colony remains a mix of East and West. It has its own culture and traditions. Large buses travel through narrow streets. The smell of dried seafood fills the air in many places. And horse racing is popular, just as it was when Hong Kong was a British colony.

But some things have changed. Instead of being able to directly elect Hong Kong’s leader, city residents must accept the decision of the committee. China is increasing its control of the city.

At the same time, residents seem increasingly disconnected with the government in Beijing. Young people are wondering about the delay of political reforms.

Protesters raise placards and banner during a rally against Hong Kong's former Chief Secretary Carrie Lam in Hong Kong, Feb. 5, 2017.
Protesters raise placards and banner during a rally against Hong Kong's former Chief Secretary Carrie Lam in Hong Kong, Feb. 5, 2017.

Many people in Hong Kong say they want the rule of law, a strong economy and the right to vote for the chief executive.

They want someone who will protect the interests of the city of seven million people. Many people believe Hong Kong’s current chief, C.Y. Leung, failed to do so. They launched a series of demonstrations that lasted for months. The protests were called the Occupy Central campaign or Umbrella Movement.

In late 2015, some booksellers disappeared. This increased concerns that China’s “one country, two systems” for Hong Kong was becoming “one country, one system.”

Pro-democracy activists say they are not afraid to continue their protests if Chinese officials do not listen to them.

Yvonne Leung is a former president of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union. She was a leader of students during the Occupy Central campaign.

"The Chinese government is trying very hard to combat any democratization movement. But I believe it is very important for Hong Kong people to uphold the core value, because the more aggressive the Chinese government are, the more people will be affected.”

Most observers believe Carrie Lam will get a majority of the votes on Sunday. Only about 25% of the electoral committee’s members are supporters of John Tsang.

Political observer Dixon Sing says the election is not likely to end political unrest in Hong Kong.

“The division will continue, but then it's also a matter of making compromises, including respecting the mainstream public opinions.”

Correspondent Joyce Huang reported this story from Hong Kong. John Smith adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

resident – n. someone who lives in a particular place

rule of law – n. a situation in which the laws of a country are obeyed by everyone

combat – v. to try to stop (something) from happening or getting worse

core – adj. most important or most basic

mainstream – n. the thoughts, beliefs and choices that are accepted by the largest number of people