Beijing-backed Carrie Lam won a triangular electoral contest to become the first woman chief executive of Hong Kong on Sunday amid pro-democracy protests and unease about Beijing’s increasing influence on the financial hub.
Hong Kong is a special administration region of China, which rules it under the “one country, two systems” principle. Under the system, Hong Kong enjoys a degree of autonomy and rights not seen in the mainland.
In her acceptance speech, Lam, whose Chinese name is Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, vowed to “heal the divide”, referring to the large-scale pro-democracy protests in 2014 where thousands camped on the streets demanding free elections and less interference by Beijing.
“Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness and has accumulated a lot of frustrations. My priority will be to heal the divide,” she said.
Speaking about the young citizens of the city, she vowed to “tap the forces of our young people”.
“They are often at the forefront of society, pulling and pushing us as a whole to make progress,” she said.
She promised to uphold the city’s “core values” such as “inclusiveness, freedoms of the press and of speech, respect for human rights” and the rule of law.
She said: “I shall do my utmost to uphold 'one country, two systems' and to guard our core values. With care, listening and action, I will build a better Hong Kong.”
“The victory ...that I have in this election is very much the effort of my team and myself and the supporters who believe I can take Hong Kong forward.”
The Hong Kong election is not a direct one; candidates are voted by an election committee, mostly comprising pro-Beijing members.
“The Electoral Affairs Commission of the Hong Kong SAR declared that Lam garnered 777 of 1,163 valid votes, followed by Tsang Chun-wah with 365 and Woo Kwok-hing with 21,” the Xinhua news agency reported.
A candidate wins the election when he or she obtains more than 600 valid votes in any round of voting and will be appointed by the central government, according to Hong Kong's Basic Law and the Chief Executive Election Ordinance.
Xinhua quoted a spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council as saying on Sunday that the election was “fair and the newly elected HKSAR chief executive meets the established standards”.
The election embodied the principle of openness, fair play and justice, said the spokesperson, adding that the election was smooth and orderly.