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Hong Kong's new chief executive starts on a tightrope

Carrie Lam must balance calls for more democracy with Beijing's interests

| Hong Kong, Macau
Carrie Lam speaks at a press conference after she won Hong Kong's chief executive election on March 26. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was elected on Sunday as Hong Kong's fourth chief executive and first female to hold the top position, now faces a series of virtually impossible tasks in her five-year term. Each requires a high-wire balancing act.

The former Hong Kong government chief secretary must try to mend the territory's deep political divisions, while laboring under the widespread perception that she was Beijing's handpicked candidate for the post. She must try to garner public support for her policies, after emerging the winner from an undemocratic process in which the closest candidate she beat was far more popular, according to opinion polls. Lam, 59, received 777 of 1,163 votes cast by an election committee regarded as friendly to Beijing. She must now try to assure Hong Kongers that she wants to introduce more democracy in the wake of fierce protests against Beijing's influence, while reassuring China's leaders who want no such thing.

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