The pro-democracy candidate and former colonial official, Anson Chan, has won a key by-election in Hong Kong.
Ms Chan said Hong Kong people were anxious for democracy
Ms Chan came out of retirement to campaign for full democracy in an election that was being seen as a test of the political mood in the territory.
Ms Chan wants the chief executive to be directly elected by 2012. The post is currently decided by a committee, many of whose appointees favour Beijing.
Anson Chan stood against China-backed Regina Ip and six other candidates.
Ms Chan won a seat in Hong Kong's legislature after receiving 175,874 votes, or about 55%, of the vote, which saw a record turnout. Her closest rival Regina Ip received 137,550, or about 43% of votes.
Ms Chan said the result "indicates that Hong Kong people are anxious to put forward democracy... I'm sure that the [Hong Kong] government and [Beijing] government would wish to listen to the genuine voice of Hong Kong people."
Security law protests
China's Communist Party pledged to introduce democratic rule in Hong Kong when they took back the territory from the British in 1997.
But Beijing has been vague about the timing of full democracy.
Under the current rules, Hong Kong's chief executive is chosen by a panel of 800 appointees, many of whom heavily favour Beijing, and only half of the 60 members of the legislature are directly elected.
Ms Ip is supported by the city's powerful pro-Beijing establishment
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent years calling for the territory's chief executive to be elected by universal suffrage.
But last month, pro-democracy parties suffered heavy losses in district council elections, while Beijing-backed groups made huge gains.
Analysts say the pro-Beijing parties benefited from a strong economy and good organisation at district level.
Ms Chan rose to prominence as the first Chinese and first female head of the civil service in the last years of Britain's colonial rule.
She returned to public life last year to push for universal suffrage and a quickening of the pace of reform.
Ms Ip, who is supported by the city's powerful pro-Beijing establishment, was Hong Kong's security secretary and is best known for trying to introduce a series of unpopular anti-subversion laws in 2003.
The proposed security law reforms were widely blamed for a half-a-million-strong street protest in Hong Kong, which shook leaders in Beijing.