Hong Kong makes history, Carrie Lam becomes first female leader amid political tension

Namrata Tripathi
Hong Kong makes history, Carrie Lam becomes first female leader amid political tension

Civil servant Carrie Lam was chosen as Hong Kong's first female leader on Sunday by a mainly pro-China committee amid the financial hub's rising concerns over Beijing curtailing its freedom.

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Lam, who will take office as the region's next leader on July 1, won 777 votes while her closest rival and former financial secretary John Tsang secured 365 votes. The results were contrary to the poll figures which showed Tsang as the more popular candidate between the two.

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The chief executive's voting is the first such leadership vote since the mass 'Umbrella Movement' which took Hong Kong by storm as thousands of protesters rallied for months asking for fully free elections in 2014. 

Lam's appointment has come at a time when Beijing is being accused of meddling in the region's politics and denying it a more populist leader who could do a better job in diffusing political tensions than the current Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying.

The majority of Hong Kong's 7.3 million population does not have a say in electing their leader. The chief executive of the China-ruled city is chosen from among several candidates by a 1,200-person "election committee" stacked with pro-Beijing and pro-establishment loyalists.

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There were also reports of scuffles outside the voting centre between police officials and protesters, as the police used metal barricades to keep the demonstrators at bay.

The Hong Kong freedom activists slammed Beijing's interference in the region's politics  amid widespread reports of unprecedented lobbying of voters to back Lam, rather than Tsang, chanting "I want universal suffrage" when the result was announced.

"The central government has intervened again and again. It's very unjust," a student protester Carmen Tong said, according to Reuters.

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Meanwhile supporters of Lam waved Chinese flags and cheered inside and outside the venue over the leader's win.

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