Hong Kong’s number two official Carrie Lam resigned Thursday ahead of what is widely expected to be a bid by the tough pro-Beijing figure to lead the divided city.
Lam is currently deputy to Hong Kong’s unpopular leader Leung Chun-ying and rose through the ranks as a career civil servant before taking public office.
The city has become sharply polarised under Leung, whose term has been marked by anti-Beijing protests. Opponents cast him as a puppet of the Chinese government squeezing the semi-autonomous city’s freedoms.
While Lam is less hated than Leung, critics fear she will take a similar hard line if she wins the leadership at elections in March.
Lam, who has worked in government since 1980, would become the city’s first woman chief executive.
News of her resignation was announced by the government Thursday afternoon in a short statement which said Leung had received her resignation and had submitted it to Beijing. Lam is yet to comment.
Political analysts said Lam was considered by the public to be a capable leader.
“The worry is that her ambition might prompt her to side exclusively with Beijing because that’s where her power comes from,” Willy Lam, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told AFP.—APP