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Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Beijing backs troubled HK leader
Tung Cheee-hwa
Mr Tung's popularity has hit an all-time low
By Damian Grammaticas in Hong Kong

In a highly unusual move the authorities in Beijing have delivered a public rebuke to the second most senior figure in Hong Kong's government and to its entire civil service.

They were told they must give better support to the territory's unpopular Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa.

Beijing's message is a sign it is troubled by how unpopular Hong Kong's leader has become in the three years since the territory was handed back to China and by suggestions his administration is deeply divided.

Mr Tung was hand picked by China's leaders to rule Hong Kong following the handover and they now appear to be sticking by their choice.

His deputy, Anson Chan who heads the civil service was told on a visit to Beijing that they must give him better support.

Troubled times

Hong Kong skyline
Many in Hong Kong say Mr Tung is out of touch
Recent opinion polls and elections earlier this month have suggested support for Mr Tung is at an all time low.

His civil servants, in particular, are unhappy.

In surveys two thirds have said they don't approve his leadership and the prospect of a ruler who doesn't have the backing of his people or his administration is worrying for Beijing.

Mr Tung is viewed by many as autocratic, out of touch and prone to political blunders.

He has instituted unpopular reforms in the civil service and elsewhere.

Anson Chang meanwhile has remained popular and there have been many reports suggesting she disagrees with his leadership.

China, it appears, is trying to patch up the problems in Hong Kong's government.

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See also:

09 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Discontent clouds Hong Kong poll
07 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Academics quit over HK polls scandal
07 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
HK Chief in opinion polls row
30 Jun 98 | Asia-Pacific
Clouds over Hong Kong anniversary
29 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong leans towards Beijing
10 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Low turnout in Hong Kong elections
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