Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying tried hard for a second term in office but in the end he gave up, citing “family reasons”.
Since the so-called “Fishball Revolution” broke out on Feb. 8, the first day of the Chinese New Year, in 2016, Leung used every available chance to promote himself in the eyes of Beijing and boost his prospects of getting an extension in Hong Kong’s top post.
Adopting a strident tone against anti-establishment groups, the chief executive dubbed the February Mong Kok protests as a “riot”.
Following the Mong Kok protests, a group of senior mainland officials — led by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee — is reported to have held a special meeting.
At the meeting, the Chinese officials are said to have stressed that they would like all groups, including business communities and even moderate democrats, to stand together and fight against separatism.
A Legco by-election on Feb. 28, which saw localist candidate Edward Leung garner as many as 66,000 votes, fueled Beijing’s fears further about separatist forces gaining ground in Hong Kong.
In May, Zhang paid a visit to Hong Kong. During the trip, he met some moderate pan-democrats and allowed them to criticize Leung heavily in front of people from the pro-establishment camp.
In August, the Electoral Affairs Commission unveiled rules that required candidates for the September LegCo election to sign declarations that they recognize China’s rights over Hong Kong.
The rules were aimed keeping localist groups at bay. Still, some pro-independence candidates made it through the election.
As two localist winners — Sixtus “Baggio” Leung and Yau Wai-ching — unfurled provocative banners and uttered words deemed insulting to China during an oath-taking ceremony on Oct. 12, CY Leung found another chance to stir the pot.
Arguing that the lawmakers must be disqualified for not taking their oaths properly, Leung initiated a legal challenge against the duo.
On Nov. 7, the National People’s Congress announced an interpretation of the Basic Law — Hong Kong’s mini-constitution — that effectively barred Sixtus and Yau from taking up their duties.
Following the successful campaign against the lawmakers, Leung was seen as having a good chance to get the green light from Beijing to join the 2017 CE election, especially after he met President Xi Jinping in Peru on Nov. 22.
On Dec. 2, CY ordered a legal challenge against four other pro-democracy legislators.
The next day, he attended a closed-door meeting organized by The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong — the city’s largest pro-Beijing political party — in a bid to push his case further.
However, things dramatically changed this week, when CY’s wife Regina was seen making a trip to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Shatin on Wednesday.
According to reports, Regina was visiting her daughter Leung Chai-yan, who has been in the hospital for a month.
On Thursday, Leung was also seen exiting the hospital where sources believe his daughter is undergoing a certian medical treatment.
On Friday, Leung announced that he will not run in the 2017 election as he doesn’t want to put his family through intolerable stress.
The announcement came as voting will take place on Sunday to pick members of the 1,200-member Election Committee that will ultimately choose Hong Kong’s next leader in 2017.
It cannot be ruled out that Beijing wants to weaken the pro-democracy camp, which plans to get more than 300 seats in the Election Committee, through the Leung announcement.
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