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Hong Kong leader-elect gets down to business

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong's Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying got down to business Monday after winning the most divisive leadership election the city has seen since the 1997 handover to China.

He began assembling his team, met officials at the Chinese government's liaison office and promised a smooth transition from the administration of outgoing Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

Leung said he discussed the formulation of his administration, which must be approved by Beijing, during his talks with mainland officials.

“I would like to gather as good a team as Hong Kong can offer, and it's important that I do that as quickly as I can,” he said, adding he would visit Beijing soon to “initiate the process.”

Leung, 57, garnered 689 votes from the 1,200-strong election committee, stacked with pro-Beijing tycoons and members of the political class, to be anointed as incoming chief executive on Sunday.

He promised to “reunite” Hong Kong and protect its “rights and freedoms” following an election which split the city's establishment camp and forced Beijing to heed popular opinion as never before.

Pro-democracy protesters condemned the election as a farce and demanded full suffrage for the semi-autonomous former British colony, which is ruled by Beijing according to the One Country, Two Systems principle.

But Tsang, whose public approval ratings are low after seven years in office, said the election “underlines the success of One Country, Two Systems.”

“It is also an important milestone in our constitutional development,” said the bow-tie wearing career bureaucrat whose term expires in June.

Leung is only the city's third post-handover chief executive and could be the last to be chosen in a so-called small-circle election, if China honors its pledge to allow full suffrage by the time his first term ends in 2017.

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 Taiwan hopes new Hong Kong leader will extend bilateral relations 
Hong Kong Chief Executive elect Leung Chun-ying, left, smiles as he speaks with Chief Executive Donald Tsang, right, in Hong Kong on Monday, March 26. (AFP)

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