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Hong Kong's Carrie Lam officially accepts role as chief executive
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 11, 2017

Hong Kong's new leader Carrie Lam officially accepted her appointment as chief executive Tuesday in Beijing, state media said, after she won an election dismissed as a sham by the region's democracy activists.

The former career civil servant was chosen in late March as the next head of the semi-autonomous city by a mainly pro-China committee, and was widely seen as Beijing's favourite candidate for the post.

It was the first leadership vote since the mass Umbrella Movement rallies in the financial hub in 2014, which called for fully free elections but failed to secure reforms.

Pro-democracy activists said none of the candidates truly represented Hong Kong and rejected the vote outright.

Lam received an official certificate of appointment from Chinese premier Li Keqiang at a ceremony in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, then met with President Xi Jinping.

In her 36-year-long career, she had demonstrated "a firm stance in loving the country and Hong Kong, a diligent, pragmatic and responsible work style, as well as rich administrative experience and ability to handle complicated situations," Xi said, according to Xinhua.

Hong Kong was handed back to China by colonial ruler Britain in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula designed to protect its freedoms and way of life for 50 years.

But 20 years on, there are serious concerns Beijing is undermining the agreement.

A Hong Kong technician was jailed for four years and nine months on Monday for rioting and arson during anti-China protests dubbed the "fishball revolution" last year -- the harshest punishment yet over the unrest.

An activist in the 2014 rallies was last month also sentenced to three months in prison, while nine more campaigners face charges.

Lam, whose Cantonese name is Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, pledged to uphold the "one country, two systems" principle in a recent interview with Xinhua, published Tuesday.

"The chief executive must play well the 'bridge' role between the special administrative region and the central government," she said.

At his meeting with Lam, Li was cited by Xinhua as as saying: "Hong Kong's development is of need to both itself and the nation."

He referenced initiatives that would "inject new energy" into Hong Kong's development, such as the establishment of a bond market connecting the special administrative region and the mainland some time this year.

Beijing hutongs: village life in the city
Beijing (AFP) April 10, 2017
Gu Chen has slept and worked in the same one-room apartment in Beijing's ancient "hutong" neighbourhood of Beixinqiao all his life. Most mornings, he rises from a twin bed that he shares with his wife and walks a few feet to pull aside drapes covering the windows on the doors facing the street. Then, the 58-year-old settles onto the concrete stoop fronting his shop and gets to work rep ... read more

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