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Hong Kong's New Leader Sworn In

Donald Tsang (l) and China's President Hu Jintao
Donald Tsang officially took over as Hong Kong's new leader Friday in ceremonies in Beijing. It marked the first change of leadership in Hong Kong since it reverted to Chinese rule eight years ago.

A beaming Donald Tsang stood before Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and other officials at the Great Hall of the People Friday to start his new career as Hong Kong's chief executive.

Mr. Tsang takes the oath of office, to serve out the remaining two years of the term of his unpopular predecessor Tung Chee-hwa.

Mr. Tung retired in March citing health reasons.

Many political analysts in Hong Kong think Mr. Tung was eased out by Beijing because of his poor handling of the economy and public calls for democracy.

Mr. Tung, a shipping tycoon, came under heavy criticism for allegedly favoring big business, and for being out of touch with ordinary Hong Kong residents and their problems.

Mr. Wen said at the ceremony that he hopes Mr. Tsang will be able to implement Hong Kong's laws, unite the people and make new contributions for the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

Mr. Tsang promised the Chinese prime minister he would work hard for the people of Hong Kong. Among Mr. Tsang's top tasks in the next two years will be to keep the city's economic recovery on track and to manage the public's call for full democracy.

An 800-member, largely pro-Beijing committee, selected Mr. Tsang for the city's top post last week, with barely any challenge. Beijing last year rejected Hong Kong people's demand to directly elect their leader. Only half of the city's legislature is directly elected.

Mr. Tsang, a career civil servant, had been Hong Kong's number-two leader since 2001. Despite the unpopularity of his predecessor, Mr. Tsang is well regarded in the city.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Beijing's control in 1997 but enjoys a high degree of autonomy from China's communist central government. Friday's ceremony marks the first leadership transition for the territory since then.