HK in crisis after officials quit
From CNN Correspondent Andrew Brown
HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- The resignation of two top government officials has plunged Hong Kong into a deepening crisis and is raising questions about the future of the territory's leader, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.
Tung announced the resignation of Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Antony Leung on Wednesday, hours after Security Secretary Regina Ip quit her post.
The chief executive will travel to Beijing Saturday to discuss the political crisis that is exploding six years after the former British colony was handed over to China.
The departures follow calls by opposition lawmakers for Tung to step down, and public appeals for government accountability and democracy.
Ip was crusading to have a controversial security bill passed. The government postponed the passing of the bill after 500,000 people rallied in protest two weeks ago.
The massive July 1 demonstration forced the Hong Kong government to delay the laws, meant to punish acts considered treason against the Chinese state.
Ip was a lightening rod for the angry protesters, who feared China would use the new laws to justify arrests of people who voice unpopular opinions.
Long before anti-sedition laws were in the pipeline, Ip's image was in trouble. She was nicknamed broomhead, because of her bushy hairstyle.
With the moves, some members of the international business community expect tension to ease in this territory of 6.8 million people.
"It should certainly be enough for the time being in terms of the dissatisfaction that the people of Hong Kong have," James Thompson of the American Chamber of Commerce told CNN.
"I think the march involved a lot of different issues, not just the security legislation. And I think they want to see the government take some action."
Leung had been under pressure for several months to resign over a tax scandal involving the purchase of a luxury car.
Prosecutors are considering criminal charges against Leung, who bought the car shortly before his department raised Hong Kong's automobile taxes.
Despite the high-profile resignations, Tung -- handpicked by China to run Hong Kong after more than 150 years of British colonial rule -- remains in power.
Critics say the chief executive is out of touch and indecisive and analysts say his future doesn't look bright.
"Even though he has accomplished this minor cabinet reshuffle, there will be further calls for Tung himself to resign, and also for a one-person-one-vote election of the next chief executive by the year 2007" says CNN Senior China Analyst Willy Lam.
Although limited elections are held in Hong Kong for legislature, ordinary people don't choose the chief executive, even though he makes most of crucial policy decisions for them.
Pressure is now mounting on China to allow voters to decide who gets to rule Hong Kong.