President Xi Jinping’s handshake with John Tsang Chun-wah in Beijing is prompting speculation Hong Kong’s financial secretary could be a front-runner in the next election for chief executive, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
Xi shook hands with Tsang at the Great Hall of the People before meeting top officials from the 49 other countries that are founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
While Xi was expected to shake hands with the foreign officials, Tsang was present as a member of the Chinese delegation, so Xi’s handshake took observers by surprise.
Before Tung Chee-hwa became Hong Kong’s first chief executive in 1997, he was given a handshake by then president Jiang Zemin in 1996.
In May 2005, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was granted an 11-second handshake with then president Hu Jintao in Beijing.
Tsang was named the city’s second chief executive shortly afterward, replacing Tung, who had resigned.
Political commentator Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the central government was well aware that Xi’s handshake would give rise to speculation.
“Beijing knows the rules of the game from the inside out, and they know Hong Kong people would not wait to come up with interpretations,” Choy said.
Liberal Party legislator James Tien Pei-chun said the handshake had a special meaning, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Tien said he doesn’t think the central government will let Leung Chun-ying renew his five-year term as chief executive without competition.
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