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Hong Kong appoints new leader

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
updated 11:26 PM EDT, Sun March 25, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CY Leung elected Chief Executive of Hong Kong
  • Decision made by 1,200 members of Election Committee
  • Hundreds of protesters called for popular vote
  • CY Leung replaces outgoing Chief Executive Donald Tsang

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Protesters pushed their way past police in rowdy scenes as elite members of Hong Kong's Election Committee decided the city-state's next chief executive.

They chose Leung Chun-ying, known as CY Leung, a British-educated chartered surveyor and one of two candidates who were backed by Beijing.

Leung beat his nearest rival Henry Tang by a wide margin, after an uncharacteristically dirty campaign which exposed extramarital affairs and allegations of bribery.

Leung won 689 of the votes, compared to Tang's 285. A third candidate, Democratic Party leader Albert Ho won just 76.

While most of the mudslinging during the campaign was aimed at Tang, Leung ran into his own trouble. He is currently under investigation for a conflict of interest case involving a construction project when he was in government office.

Race for Hong Kong's top job

There are also allegations of "black money" -- that his campaign had been in contact with organized crime figures. He also is suspected of being a closet communist, and is thought to hold hardline views on public order and press freedom.

According to his website, Leung attended primary school in Hong Kong but left to study Estate Management at Bristol Polytechnic in the United Kingdom. He walked 55 minutes each way to college "in the English weather," it says, and worked in a Chinese takeaway shop to help cover expenses.

On returning to Hong Kong in the late 1970s, Leung worked for real estate consulting firm Jones Lang Wootton, before becoming the youngest partner in the firm's 200-year history, the website says.

He later opened his own firm, CY Leung & Co. and became involved in Hong Kong's administration through his election to the Executive Committee of the Basic Law Consultative Committee. He was appointed to the Executive Council of Hong Kong in 1997 and has convened it since.

As election members cast their votes, hundreds of demonstrators from varying student and activists groups jostled outside calling for a say in who leads the city-state. Students waved banners saying "If there's no revolt, there's no change," as others yelled slogans through loudspeakers lost in the din of protests.

Hong Kong's population of seven million people isn't asked to vote for the chief executive. The decision is made by the 1,200 members of the Election Committee, a group of people selected from pro-business and pro-establishment circles.

While China doesn't overtly decide who leads the Special Administrative Region, it does have favored candidates and says that the outcome should be "acceptable" to the people of Hong Kong.

Leung replaces outgoing Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

CNN's Eva Tam contributed to this story.

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