Hong Kong profile

Chief executive: Leung Chun-ying

Leung Chun-ying Leung Chun-ying faced an unprecedented challenge

Chinese President Hu Jintao oversaw the inauguration of Leung Chun-ying as Hong Kong's third chief executive on 1 July 2012, marking the 15th anniversary of the handover of the former British colony to China.

After a lucrative career in property development, involving acting as advisor to several provinces in China, Mr Leung entered politics in the pro-China camp, rising to membership of Hong Kong's ruling Executive Council and China's People's Political Consultative Conference parliamentary body.

Donald Tsang had served the maximum two terms as chief executive, and the 2012 election saw an unusually bitter contest between Mr Leung and another pro-China candidate, Mr Tsang's former deputy Henry Tang.

Mr Tang won an unprecedented 24% of the votes in the 1,200-member corporate-dominated electoral college, despite reports of strong Chinese pressure on his supporters to back Mr Leung. A pro-democracy candidate took another 6%.

Mr Leung has the weakest mandate of any chief executive so far, and took office amid major public protests and some clashes at lack of democracy and growing inequality. He has pledged to fight poverty and build affordable housing, but enjoys little of the public support he will need to confront Hong Kong's property tycoons.

Persistent rumours that he is a clandestine member of the Chinese Communist Party, and therefore ineligible to stand for the nominally non-partisan post of chief executive, also harmed his reputation.

His initiative to impose pro-China "patriotic lessons" in schools led to loud protests and an embarrassing climbdown on the eve of Legislative Council elections in September 2012, at which pro-democracy parties retained enough seats to veto constitutional change. This fuels public demands for a popularly-elected chief executive, which China has pledged to introduce by 2017.

Born in 1957, Mr Leung studied in Britain before returning home to work as a surveyor in 1977. He entered political life in 1985 as a member of the Consultative Committee that drew up the Basic Law of post-colonial Hong Kong.

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