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Hong Kong leader resigns
Brian Marple, The Epoch Times

WASHINGTON - Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa will be stepping down, according to reports cited in Hong Kong newspapers. The highly unpopular leader, who stepped in as chief executive after Britain returned the territory to China in 1997, presided over eight years filled with both economic and political problems.

Reports state that Tung, citing personal health reasons, handed in his resignation before the Lunar New Year, which started on February 9. Tung, 67, did not comment when questioned by reporters Tuesday morning, offering only, “Good morning.”

The newspaper reports generally speculate that Chief Secretary Donald Tsang will take over for Tung as acting Chief Executive.

During his tenure Tung faced and created a number of economic and political crises. Since Hong Kong’s return to China, the territory has faced numerous economic recessions. In 2002, five years into Tung’s rule, Hong Kong had a 6.7% unemployment rate, the highest in its history, and the territory had been running a large deficit for many years.

Tung also greatly angered a majority of Hong Kong residents with his insistence on pushing through a controversial anti-subversion law that critics claimed would be used to silence religious groups persecuted in China, such as Falun Gong and the Catholic church, as well as organizations with dissident views.

Over a half million people attended rallies in 2003 and 2004 to oppose the proposed law, which Tung eventually was forced to shelve. The rallies later turned into calls for direct democracy in the territory, calls which have been rejected by Beijing.

Following the 2003 anti-subversion law demonstrations Beijing began to take a much more active role in Hong Kong affairs, greatly limiting Tung’s power. Vice President Zeng Qinghong was placed in charge of handling “sensitive issues” such as direct democracy in Hong Kong, likely reasons for Beijing’s toughened stance on the issue.

Some believe that Tung’s resignation will be little more than Beijing gaining further direct control of the territory.

“They (Beijing) got rid of Hong Kong democracy and now they want another leader,” said Martin Lee, a pro-democracy Hong Kong legislator, in The Standard. “This new chief executive will do everything he is instructed to do.”

“This is the end of Hong Kong people running Hong Kong.”

Some information from Reuters News Services used in this report

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