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Originally published Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 7:50 PM

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Thousands protest choice for Hong Kong chief-executive post

The territory's highest official is elected by a committee of local elites hand-picked by Beijing. Leung Chun-ying, who received 689 of 1,132 votes cast, is known for strong loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party and a tough stance on political protests.

Los Angeles Times

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BEIJING — After pro-Beijing candidate Leung Chun-ying was chosen by a Hong Kong committee as the territory's new chief executive Sunday, thousands protested outside the harbor-front election site to demand a more democratic voting process.

Hong Kong's 7 million residents enjoy greater freedoms than citizens of mainland China, but the territory's highest official is elected by a committee of 1,193 local elites hand-picked by Beijing.

Leung, who received 689 of 1,132 votes cast, has a reputation for displaying a strong loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party and a tough stance on political protests. Public-opinion polls and mock elections show that the Hong Kong public views him with distrust.

"The general public has never accepted that the election committee represents them," said Christine Loh, director of the Hong Kong-based nonprofit organization Civic Exchange.

Leung will replace Donald Tsang, Hong Kong's chief executive since 2005, in June. His term will last five years.

This is the third chief-executive election since the British relinquished administrative control over Hong Kong to Beijing in 1997. The previous two were staid affairs with outcomes determined well in advance. In contrast, this election was preceded by months of mudslinging, uncertainty and scandal.

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