Hong Kong's finance minister has resigned, a move that many see as his first step toward staking a bid for the city's top job.
John Tsang handed his resignation in Monday, the government said. Rumors have been around for awhile that the U.S.-educated Tsang would seek the office.
The city's current leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, announced last week that he would not seek a second term, citing family reasons.
Tsang is Hong Kong's second-most-popular official, with an approval rating of 62 percent, while Leung has a disapproval rating of 71 percent, according to a recent survey conducted by Hong Kong University.
Leung's rule has been marked by anti-Beijing protests.He has also been lambasted by Hong Kong activists for his hardline stance against pro-democracy activists and lawmakers.He is suspected of having close ties with Beijing. His five-year term ends in June.
Pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong are becoming increasingly worried Beijing is moving to erode the territory's civil liberties, which have been in place since Britain returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997.