Hong Kong profile - Leaders

  • 19 June 2015
  • From the section Asia

Chief executive: Leung Chun-ying

Image caption Mr Leung has pledged to fight poverty and high housing costs

Pro-Beijing politician Leung Chun-ying's tenure has been marked by recurring political battles with Hong Kong's pro-democracy opposition.

Mr Leung succeeded Donald Tsang - who had served the maximum two terms allowed - in 2012 to become Hong Kong's third chief executive through an unusually bitter electoral contest with another pro-China candidate, Mr Tsang's former deputy Henry Tang.

Mr Tang won an unprecedented 24% of the votes in the electoral college, despite reports of strong Chinese pressure on his supporters to back Mr Leung.

As a result, Mr Leung was felt to have a weak mandate, and took office amid major public protests against a lack of democracy and growing inequality.

Since coming to power, Mr Leung's government says it made strides fulfilling his pledges to combat poverty and rein in Hong Kong's high housing costs.


A plan to introduce pro-China "patriotic lessons" in schools led protests and then an embarrassing climb-down on the eve of legislative elections in September 2012, at which pro-democracy parties retained enough seats to veto constitutional change.

The stand-off with pro-democracy forces reached new heights in 2014, when Mr Leung indicated his support for China's view that only candidates chosen by a nominating committee should stand in direct universal elections for the post of chief executive, due to start in 2017.

Activists responded with an unofficial pro-democracy referendum in which almost 800,000 residents took part, and pro-democracy protesters occupied large parts of central Hong Kong. In June 2015 the Legislative Council rejected the election proposal.

Mr Leung has also faced growing discontent at the influx of traders from mainland China who buy goods in the territory to sell back home.

Born in 1957, Mr Leung studied in Britain before returning home to work as a surveyor in 1977. He entered political life in 1985 as a member of the Consultative Committee that drew up the Basic Law of post-colonial Hong Kong.

After a lucrative career in property development, involving acting as advisor to several provinces in China, Mr Leung entered politics in the pro-China camp, rising to membership of Hong Kong's ruling Executive Council and China's People's Political Consultative Conference parliamentary body.

More on this story