Hong Kong leader plans to give his first policy address

Hong Kong's leader planned to give his first policy address on Wednesday, a speech expected to hit on the themes of greater social harmony and economic growth, while avoiding promises for full democracy for the Chinese territory.

Since taking office four months ago, Donald Tsang, a former finance minister, has established himself as a markedly different leader than his unpopular predecessor, shipping tycoon Tung Chee-hwa. And not just because of his penchant for wearing colorful bow ties.

Tsang has been more accessible to the media and has tried to cultivate better ties with pro-democracy lawmakers. He has also mixed with the public more and has tried to appear more sympathetic to the people's needs.

But when it comes to pushing for full democracy for the territory, Tsang has been exactly like his predecessor. He has said he agrees with Beijing that the time isn't right, and there needs to be more trust between Hong Kong and the mainland's Communist rulers.

Since returning to Chinese rule in 1997, the former British colony has been run under a "one country, two systems" model that promises to give the territory a wide degree of autonomy. Voters can't directly elect the chief executive and they can only pick half of the 60-seat legislature. Tsang was selected by a committee loyal to Beijing.

It angers many Hong Kongers that this wealthy, sophisticated global financial hub of 6.9 million people has been denied full democracy, while impoverished, often unstable, Asian neighbors like the Philippines and Indonesia enjoy wider political freedoms, reports the AP. I.L.

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