China has approved the resignation of Hong Kong's interim leader, Donald Tsang, paving the way for him to run for formal election as the territory's leader.

The official Xinhua News Agency says China's State Council approved Mr. Tsang's request to resign as acting chief executive Wednesday.

Mr. Tsang told reporters Thursday his campaign for the office of chief executive has formally begun. The election, by a Beijing sanctioned 800-member committee, is in July.

Mr. Tsang has long been considered China's choice for the top job following the surprise resignation of Tung Chee-hwa in March.

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary, Henry Tang, has been appointed the new acting chief executive.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.