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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March 2005, 13:23 GMT
What now for Hong Kong?
Hong Kong's former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa
Hong Kong's chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, has resigned, citing poor health.

He denies being sacked by the Chinese, who picked him to run the former British colony in 1997.

His leadership saw economic crisis, the Sars epidemic, and criticism of his support of China's efforts to limit democratic reforms in Hong Kong.

Mr Tung's deputy, Donald Tsang, is set to become acting chief executive until a permanent replacement is chosen.

Send us your reaction to Tung Chee-hwa's resignation. Do you think China played a role? What does the future hold for Hong Kong?

This debate is now closed.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far.

If Hong Kong was still a British colony it would have faced the same problems that it faces today
Venkat, London, UK
I used to regularly visit colonial Hong Kong on work and I was a resident of Hong Kong after the handover. Tung Chee-hwa had the good of Hong Kong in mind. He may have been aloof but to blame him for all of Hong Kong's ills would be wrong. The economy of colonial Hong Kong was bound to be strong because most corporations used Hong Kong as a gateway to China. It had nothing to do with the British Rule. Once China signed the WTO, the importance of Hong Kong was over. Logically, why would any company stay in "expensive" Hong Kong when they could deal directly with China and set up operations in Shanghai or other Chinese cities for much lower costs. That is what happened and I saw companies move to the mainland in hordes. This is the reason for Hong Kong's decline and nothing else. If Hong Kong was still a British colony it would have faced the same problems that it faces today. Tung Chee-hwa has just been made a scapegoat. Having said all that at least in Hong Kong things work! The MTR and KCR run efficiently. The public services are world class. If Tung was as bad as many people make him out to be, they should try living in Blair's UK or in Ken Livingstone's London. They will realise what Tung Chee-hwa has done for Hong Kong
Venkat, London, UK

It all depends upon how much the senior politicians have "invested" in or through Hong Kong, and whether they can build up China's banking to become internationally acceptable, which I doubt they can in the next 5 - 10 years. China needs Hong Kong much more than Hong Kong needs China. China cannot lose face over Hong Kong, Taiwan is already one step too far.
Bill, Bracknell, UK

Losing the mix of cultures and skills that made it the powerhouse of Asia
Graham Ridler, Leeds
I have recently returned from living in Hong Kong. It is fast turning into just another Chinese city - losing the mix of cultures and skills that made it the powerhouse of Asia. This is being caused by the change of laws and attitude towards 'foreigners' which was overseen by Tung, but dictated by Beijing. Hong Kong must fight against this. Beijing and Shanghai are better placed to exploit China's development, and unless Hong Kong maintains its distinct identity it may well wither away.
Graham Ridler, Leeds

I think Tung Chee-hwa was forced out by Beijing. The implications, for one country, two systems, are dire, indeed. I fear the cataclysmic predications of 1997 may finally come true. Beijing appears to be cracking down on Hong Kong's prized freedom.
P. Bolton, USA

Change is always difficult and HK is not going to accept a return to China overnight. Mr Tung was going to be unpopular no matter what he did as resentment to the change was directed at him. However, I am hopeful that Mr Tsang will operate well on both sides of the divide and smooth the way. I am very fond of HK and will be watching the outcome closely.
Anya, London, UK

The resignation of Tung is a clear sign of Beijing's lack of respect for Hong Kong's so-called autonomy. If the mainland cannot respect their own proposed idea of "One Country, Two Systems", how do they expect to lure Taiwan into re-unification? They have just set a very bad example, not only to Taiwan but also the whole world, that "Democracy" is not tolerated whatsoever by Beijing.
Jimmy, Toronto

Donald Tsang (who was Mr Tung's deputy and is set to become acting chief executive until a permanent replacement is picked) is a well-known career civil servant and no doubt will serve China's purpose for the moment. But he will simply administer the dictates from Beijing until they put a China-grown puppet back in place (post the 2008 Olympics). This country could do far worse than offer full British citizenship to those Hong Kong Chinese who were living in Hong Kong at the time of the handover (and their offspring).
Pam Burn, Letchworth, Herts

If the Beijing government can "remove" the head of Hong Kong so deliberately, what is the point of keeping the one country two systems?
Timothy, Australia

His resignation was due to the pressure from the Beijing government but, unfortunately, not from the Hong Kong people... If the Beijing government can "remove" the head of Hong Kong so deliberately, what is the point of keeping the one country two systems?
Timothy, Australia

Most of Hong Kong's citizens attribute their unhappy emotions to Mr Tung. That is an injustice. Mr Tung told a news conference that he does 16 to 18 hours of work every day... Mr Tung ignored his health to do his best and now suffers from sickness. I am proud of Tung's achievement.
Franki Cheng, Hong Kong

The only way for Hong Kong to move forward is to declare itself an independent republic outside the control of the PRC. Why couldn't Hong Kong become an independent city-state when the British withdrew in 1997, while all the other former British dependencies could?
Karven Wong, NT, Hong Kong

From the start, Tung Chee-hwa was out of step with contemporary Hong Kong. His attitudes and demeanour were about 20 years out-of-date. "Sir Donald," however, is a better fit with today's Hong Kong, and may receive a more friendly reception from the people of Hong Kong.
Mike Martin, Washington DC, US

Never in that entire period have we had a leader so unwilling to communicate with the people he rules and so unwilling to be held accountable to them
Peter Littlewood, Hong Kong

I have lived in Hong Kong for 27 years and watched it go from a British colony to a unique part of China. Never in that entire period have we had a leader so unwilling to communicate with the people he rules and so unwilling to be held accountable to them. Ironic, indeed, that the Chinese leaders, to whom he was completely subservient, eventually threw him out.
Peter Littlewood, Hong Kong

Tung's departure marked the end of political turmoil in Hong Kong. Yet the Chinese administration's intervention in Tung's resignation is intolerable.
Lawrence YU, Hong Kong

I lived in Hong Kong for nine years and was a resident there during the handover. I can assure you that, despite all the carefully stage-managed nationalistic fervour, many people were extremely ambivalent, not to say downright nervous, about post-97 Hong Kong, and still are. Of course HK is not "just another Chinese city subject to Chinese law" - if that was the case, why did the Beijing government guarantee its democratic system for 50 years after the handover? (That's "democracy with Chinese characteristics", of course ...). Tung has never been anything more that a Beijing yes-man and everybody knows it. I spoke to a HK Chinese woman in London recently who told me that many people in HK wish that it was still either a UK colony or, better still, an independent city state like Singapore ... don't hold your breath!
Noel Ng, London, UK/Ireland

Does anyone remember that British governors of Hong Kong were directly appointed from London? Did the Hong Kong people have any say when the British were there? At least the Chinese are pretending to elect the Chief Executive. Were the governors truly independent and not a stooge then? What is the difference? Freedom in HK, yes but no democracy. Don't get me wrong, I am all for universal suffrage, but before any Westerners get on their high horses know your history or you will sound very hypocritical.
Joseph CTJ Chan, London

Mr Tung might have his shortcomings as a leader, but his strengths are his good intention and the trust Beijing has for him. Under his rule, Hong Kong remains the international financial centre and personal liberties has not changed at all. "One Country Two Systems" became a smooth running reality mainly because of his always good intentions and the trust Beijing has for him. That will indeed be his place in history.
Dr Wong Yee Him, Hong Kong

It's time China realises that democracy is the only way to move forward
D Davies, S Africa

Sooner or later, China has to realise that forcing an issue never works. It's clear Tung Chee-hwa was pushed out and, unfortunately, this is how the Chinese government works. It's time China realises that democracy is the only way to move forward. Suffocating creativity and innovativeness will land it in the position of a reversal of fortunes. It is the most advanced developing country in the world. If it wants to stay that way, it will have to allow more freedom or suffer the consequences.
D Davies, S Africa

I am an ex-pat HK permanent resident, what I say is Mr Tsang will have a difficult job as the new chief executive. So hopefully, the central government will allow him time to prove himself as an effective chief executive after all he is a career civil servant with vast knowledge of the HK Government workings, much like the current UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, who was a career diplomat before he was elected UN Secretary General. Good Luck, Mr. Tsang, make HK proud of you and the HKSAR Government (again)!
Bill MacInnes, Paisley Scotland

I find it funny how so many people are in an uproar over their Chief Executive being under the control of Beijing. Of course he is! Hong Kong is a part of China just like Beijing is a part of China. Isn't the Mayor of New York City under the authority of Washington DC? I see no problem with the central government outlining what their cities can and can't do. Hong Kong already enjoys many clear and distinct differences from the rest of China, but when it comes down to it, Hong Kong is just another Chinese city who has to play by China's rules!
David Guo, Washington DC, USA

As all you see, Hong Kong under China's leadership has changed dramatically. Although Hong Kong's influence on the economy has shadowed by the China's fast growing economy, the link between them has strengthened. In the long term, I think Hong Kong will benefit from mainland China.
Lynn, China

As a person I have come to admire Mr. Tung for his wholehearted dedication in the service of the Hong Kong people. How I wish that the leaders of my native Philippines will think first of country before family and relatives!
Kau Wah Tan, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

Christopher Patten politicised Hong Kong. He did very great harm. Hong Kong still suffers from what he did. Prime Minister John Major made a huge mistake when he ignored the advice of the Foreign Office and appointed Patten (a politician) rather than the traditional diplomat to be Governor of Hong Kong. If the electors of Bath had re-elected Patten, Hong Kong would not have been politicised and Hong Kong would not have suffered as it has.
Anthony Stephen , Hong Kong

Whoever succeeds Tung is irrelevant. If you really understand "One country, two systems", you would know it's all a big show. Nobody but China has the final say in Hong Kong's policies. They just need someone to stand in the frontline to take the damage for carrying out China's instructions. There is no doubt whoever succeeds Tung will look as incompetent and be criticised just as much because we are under the rule of China, not the people of Hong Kong. China definitely has plans for Hong Kong, it's just unfortunate the plans don't include the interests of the people of Hong Kong.
Terence, Hong Kong

The whole process is just a show
Bo Wong, HK
First of all, I have to say that I feel sad for Mr Tung, he's been a puppet throughout his short political career, even down to his resignation. But that is all, about people in HK. We're merely the audience watching somewhat indifferently a puppet show, a farce. We have been watching, we are watching, and shall still be watching. We might get temporary emotional stirs, and feel like participating in it for a while. The 1 July demonstration for instance, but look at what happened after the march? Life still goes on as the same. Yes, Tung and Tsang's faces will be on the telly for a while, but other celebrities will be taking hold of the scene pretty soon. After all, the whole process is just a show.
Bo Wong, HK

And to think all of us who said Hong Kong would have its freedom slowly crushed were called rightwing idiots! I hate to say it, but "I told you so!" Too bad for you, my company is now in Korea where it has a future. My Hong Kong competitors are near closing down due to taxes and mainland regulations.
Li, Seoul

I think the people of Hong Kong are starting to regret the hangover. Of course they weren't able to pick the British governor, but Hong Kong's economy boomed under British rule, and life was pleasant. Shame on the British government to not give all Hong Kong residents full British citizenship, maybe they could leave that place easier, than now with a Mickey mouse British passport.
Tom P, Manchester, UK

Under the British we were generally treated with respect and our human rights were never doubted
Kwok Jones, Hong Kong, China
I am from Hong Kong and would firstly like to defend the British government's rule here. Under the British we were generally treated with respect and our human rights were never doubted. It is fashionable for foreigners to say Britain was the same as China in the way it ruled. Wrong! Hong Kong's people were certainly better treated by the British. It is a shame that politics and international relations issues meant Britain handing over Hong Kong to China instead of granting us independence as with other former colonies. Lastly, the candidates that Tung beat to attain office were nominated by CCP not the Hong Kong people.
Kwok Jones, Hong Kong, China

Tung Chee-hwa's resignation may be good news. But it does not necessarily mean that things will get better. For the past eight years, with all the problems we had in Hong Kong, do people really think the Chinese government knew nothing about it? And yet, what did the Chinese government do? They still let Tung Chee-hwa be the chief executive. China do not care about Hong Kong. All they care is how to control Hong Kong and taking democracy out of us, like the rest of the residents in China. We did not vote for our British Governors, but who cares if our life was better!
Edith, Hong Kong

Typical, Hong Kong people fail to realize the fact that we never picked our governor before 1997, and it had never been an issue. Although Tung had shown his incompetence, one should also understand there were many variables on the misfortune of Hong Kong during the past few years. On the other hand, many of the so-called democratic politicians or parties in Hong Kong are indeed speaking out to impress Hong Kong voters, rather than working for the people of Hong Kong. The idea of having everyone voting for a CE is not realistic. After all, we need to have a person who can cooperate with Beijing, while knowing how to satisfy the concerns of local people. It will be very difficult to achieve both if we are to pick our CE. Our focus should be shifted to economic and social sides, rather than entirely political.
Joseph Yau, Vancouver BC, Canada

With or without Tung Hong Kong will remain the world's greatest city. The idea that our freedoms have been reduced since 1997 is absolute nonsense.
YuJen, Hong Kong

I am absolutely gutted we cannot choose our next leader
Hilary Y, Harrow, UK
I originated from HK. Tung must go. It's better late than never. Like 62.5% of HK people, I am absolutely gutted we cannot choose our next leader. Beijing has twisted the basic law, and veto all pro-democracy discussions at our legislative council. "One country, two system and autonomy"? Don't make me laugh.
Hilary Y, Harrow, UK

I think Hong Kong should have more autonomy and try to learn form Scotland. Scotland is part of Great Britain, but Scots can have authority to govern affairs in their place. However, Beijing still has much interference in Hong Kong affairs, especially democracy and freedom. I, as a Hong Kong Chinese, hope Hong Kong-ers can elect our lawmakers and Chief Executive in the near future.
Stan Lee, KLN, Hong Kong

This is the worst political drama I've seen in my life so far. "Rumours" are so authoritative that the reality is just a rerun of the already-played show. We all expected Tung's resignation, his announcement was just a matter of time. And sadder still, we all know that we are living in lies - "one country, two systems", "Rule of Law", "50 years' unchanged"! All we wish for is just mercy from Beijing, spare us all those political irrationality and stupidity, please!
H Liu, Hong Kong

Whoever becomes the Chief Executive, it will make no difference
Tom Lau, Ottawa, Canada
Whoever becomes the Chief Executive, it will make no difference. As long as there is no true universal suffrage for the Legislative Council and direct election of the Chief Executive, no real change will happen. Ever since 1997, HK's energy, vibrancy and creativity have all been sapped bit by bit by China's suffocating hands.
Tom Lau, Ottawa, Canada

All the comments from Western folks in this column emphasizes the Chinese interference in Hong Kong's internal affairs, may I remind them of the British dominance of HK before 1997? HK had absolutely no voice in any of its own affairs at that time, where was your concern then? At least we know how Tung was elected, but not any of the British ex-governors.
Alfred, US

Tung Chee-hwa was like a chef who is working in a busy and demanding Chinese takeaway. He has tried to cater his dishes to everyone, but unfortunately he has too many difficult customers who will never be satisfied with whatever dish he does! His dishes are not hot and spicy enough for their taste. And the truth is, the Chinese chef does not know how to cook curry!
Victor, Manchester, UK

Even to the end he has managed to further damage Hong Kong peoples' confidence
Tung Wai Yip, San Francisco, USA
The way his resignation rumour has been circulating for over a week and yet he still avoided making a public statement again shown what an indecisive leader Tung was. Even to the end he has managed to further damage Hong Kong peoples' confidence and show his incompetence. All these backroom politics of successor picking also demonstrated that the chief executive is only accountable to Beijing, not to the people of Hong Kong.
Tung Wai Yip, San Francisco, USA

It was such a joy seeing people clapping as the news of Tung's resignation was broadcast live on giant screen TVs around commercial districts of Hong Kong. Tung's successor, Sir Donald Tsang is a career civil servant, a technocrat. No doubt, he will be a good administrator. But as he has shown in the past, he is a loyal servant to his master (not HK people, British or Chinese). So people shouldn't have high hopes of Tsang standing up for the interests of the Hong Kong people when it comes to issues like democracy, fairness and civil liberties.
Patrick F, Hong Kong

What now for Hong Kong? Who knows, except to say it will be the complete opposite of the false "wisdom" (I use the word advisedly) that Chris Patten will espouse. He was a menace to the region when he received his consolation prize for losing his Parliamentary seat and it bemuses me why, to this day, he is still considered some sort of authority on the region. The archetypal opportunist, who now thinks he's an expert on the EU!
Paul B, Oxford

Hong Kong really needs a political leader who will make firm and correct decisions
Kamil Shah, London, UK
I believe it is time for Mr Tung to resign. Having spent most of my life in Hong Kong, after experiencing the devastation caused by SARS, bird flu, the economic depression, etc, Hong Kong really needs a political leader who will make firm and correct decisions for the betterment of Hong Kong.
Kamil Shah, London, UK

This can been seem as a major step for Hong Kong's democracy development. At least, this can show that the Hong Kong citizens still have some influence on choosing their leader, as we never had a say about the Governor under the British rule. The fact is that the British had never given Hong Kong people democracy. Not until the handover, all the important people and top officials were all British.
Billy Ma, Reading UK (Currently taking up employment in UK)

I feel greatly sympathetic for Mr Tung's struggle during his administration. While during his term we did not witness great prosperity for Hong Kong, it was in fact a time where the people of Hong Kong embarked on a journey into new territories of the so called "one country, two systems" regime. Mr Tung was to a certain extent a phantom or experimental unit of the Chinese government, a rather difficult task for any man. We should feel happy for Mr Tung that now he will finally be able to step out of the spotlight and phase out of the unprecedented amount of right and wrong criticisms any leader of Hong Kong has faced.
Jason Wu, Hong Kong and Madison, WI USA

Mr Tung has done his best already - what he lacks is political competence. Whoever is going to take over the post, let's hope that this person is sophisticated enough to balance Beijing's expectations and Hong Kong people's pledge for more democracy. More importantly, the so-called political parties and politicians in Hong Kong should be more pragmatic and do something concrete for the city's betterment instead of for their own interests. Especially the elected legislators - don't let the voters down.
WY, Hong Kong

I lived in Hong Kong in the 70s and 80s when it was still a British colony. China needed HK then as its "capitalist" gateway to the outside world. Now, it's just another part of China but the facilities and expertise are still there. China will keep it as it is unless it causes problems - then down will come the heavy hand.
Keith, Chepstow, Wales & Doha Qatar.

I really hope that Sir Donald will try his utmost for the Hong Kong people. Sadly he has little room for manoeuvre - if he really wants to, of course.
Chris Lo, Hong Kong

If you asked the people of HK who they would choose to be the next Chief Executive, Anson Chan, the former Chief Secretary would win without a doubt.
Alan Wong, HK

The auspices of Mr. Tung's service weren't good, not even in 1997. It is difficult to judge the quality of his work. Maybe the underlying problem has always been that Hong Kong had no say in the terms of the handover, and that it was all the work of Britain and China. As long as the people of Hong Kong can't choose their leaders by themselves, they have every right to blame Peking and its hand-picked Chief Executives, when things don't work as they should.
Franz Bleeker, Emden, Germany

So long as the end result is better for the people of Hong Kong, why should it matter how the leader is picked? Taking a step back and looking at the big picture will help - Hong Kong will not get full democratic process unless the PRC becomes a democratic state - and that's a long way off. Too often though people see democracy as an end in itself (look at American efforts to "spread democracy" for example) and not a means to an end - the betterment of a people's livelihood. The PRC is arguably not ready for a full democratic system, but that doesn't mean their leaders aren't contemplating other methods of reaching that end. Democratic process without the necessary background and tradition often results in corruption and rigged elections (see many African states for examples) with the end result being democracy leading a nation no closer to the ends of "better livelihood".
Patrick Tan, Hong Kong, China

In the near future, Hong Kong will still be a good place for living
Jessica, Hong Kong / UK
As a Hong Kong-er, I do believe that, in the near future, Hong Kong will still be a good place for living. Frankly speaking, despite the Economic Crisis, SARS epidemic and political changes, the post-1997 way of living is pretty much the same as pre-1997. With a Disneyland opening in September and a wide variety of shops, I think Hong Kong is still a nice tourist attraction. Hong Kong's Fiscal policy is most one of the most open and independent. Moreover everyone in Hong Kong can publicly (even through mass media) discuss whether their leader is resigning or not, and the press can even prepare in advance for this "breaking news". How can an individual enjoy such a high level of freedom of speech if he/she is in somewhere under full communist rule? After all China still needs to fulfil its "50 years unchanged" commitment, hence to a certain extent "One country, Two Systems" does exist.
Jessica, Hong Kong, now temporarily living in UK

The fault was not so much with Tung himself, but with the pathetically incompetent, bungling and dishonourable Principle Officials he chose for his government. The cornerstone of success of Hong Kong and in any society lies in it's civil service. In spite of continuous appeals from the Civil Servants here, the Secretary for Civil Service remains in post. Tung did nothing about this situation. One only hopes his successor will get rid of the man.
Thomas Macintyre, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

To be frank, he ought to have stepped down a lot earlier, perhaps after his first term in 2002. He is no doubt a benevolent man but not suitable for politics. What HK needs is someone who is a genuine politician, Donald Tsang should be more ideal as he comes from a civil service background. I think this experience conveys a very important message. Hong Kong businessmen are probably the best in making money, but not suitable for government.
John, Hong Kong

Beijing is eager for more control
Amy Au, Paris, France
Chris Patten has expressed to the BBC World this morning his doubts about Beijing trusting someone who is trained during by the former colonial government to run Hong Kong. Yes, Donald Tsang is better received by the public but it is quite clear that he'll be in charge for a short while before the next Chinese darling comes into the picture. What China is depicting, after its anti-secession law comes into effect, is a more oppressive approach towards political freedom and liberty in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Its "one China" ideology prevails in the party, and has exceeded what is originally good about the "two system". Whether it is a "stepping down" or a "removal" of Mr Tung is only phenomenal - Beijing is eager for more control.
Amy Au, Paris, France

It was only a matter of time before Tung departed after he was given a public dressing down by the Chinese Premier during a recent visit to Macau. He was the wrong man for the job and the Chinese are pragmatic enough to realise this. As regards comments in this column about erosion of freedom - pure nonsense. At least in Hong Kong we are free to walk the streets without fear of crime.
Steve, Hong Kong

I will not put too much hope on Tung's successor, Donald Tsang, either. He is famous for his loyalty to his boss - which may not be a good thing to Hong Kong-ers after all. Besides, it is known that Tsang is ill-tempered and sometimes refuses to listen to others' opinion. Still better than Tung's incompetence, though.
Erico Yeung, Sacramento, CA, USA

Just a quick reminder to those who criticise the Chinese government for not allowing direct election of Hong Kong's chief executive - during 100 years of British rule, the locals never had a say on this matter either.
George Ji, Leeds, UK

Accepting his reason for resignation at face value is a sheer insult to sensible people
Roy Merlin, Hong Kong
Not that I want him to stay, but accepting his reason for resignation at face value is a sheer insult to sensible people. For the past eight years, he has had a major share in the city's downfall. Probably with his track record, some might say Tung returns to the Mainland to share his expertise in cooling down her booming and overheating economy.
Roy Merlin, Hong Kong

He made mistakes and has been struggling for years; but his dedication and hardworking attitudes remind us of the Old Hong Kong people of the 1960s. Life was bad but still tried to find a way through. His courage and ever learning spirit should be copied by all of us. His departure is a start of the new era. Good Luck Mr. Tung and Hong Kong.
Victor, UK

I don't think we'll see any big changes in the Hong Kong political scene with Tung's successors. It is obvious from the last few years, Beijing is slowly exercising influence in the internal affairs and law making in Hong Kong. Democratic reforms are being limited. Sadly, 'One Country, Two Systems' is slowly dying.
Ivy Shen, Paris, France

Mr. Tung was losing support from the citizens of Hong Kong
Victor L, Oxford, UK
Life has been very harsh in Hong Kong since the handover. Of course we cannot blame everything on Mr. Tung's policy. However the fact is that Mr. Tung was losing support from the citizens of Hong Kong. It is probably not wise for him to continue. Will Mr. Donald Tsang do a good job? Time will tell. At least he is not Mr. Unpopular. It will take a long time to bridge Hong Kong and mainland China together, due to the differences of the economic gap and the idea of freedom. As long as Mr. Tsang is loyal to Hong Kong, then there is a chance.
Victor L, Oxford, UK

Why can't China see that letting us elect our own leader could not be worse than another Tung? There is really no local support for HK independence from China (like there perhaps is in Taiwan), and any leader knows he will be dealing with a population that accepts China as an integral part of HK's future. Let us pick the new Chief Executive - we'd probably pick Donald Tsang anyway!
Peter Mike, Hong Kong

It would be naive to believe that Tung Chee-hwa has independently resigned without any influence from Beijing. The last 8 years have shown that on any relatively important matter China pulls the strings. This is a tactical move by Beijing to try and further delay electoral reform and maintain their control over the new appointment of a chief Executive. Mr Tung has been widely criticised from different quarters of society and at times with good reason. However, we have to consider how successful a more 'democratic' thinking Chief Executive would be in their relationship with the Chinese leaders. Given the restraints on HK political reform it is a credit to the many people who keep democratic hopes alive and encourage open public debate. I remain optimistic.
David Cross, Hong Kong

I'll miss him, particularly his sincerity for the betterment of Hong Kong
Laurie Lau, Hong Kong
The news of Mr Tung's exit brings very mixed feelings. In one sense it's good to bring in new blood of modern leadership, which Hong Kong badly lacks inside the government, but in another sense, I'll miss him, particularly his sincerity for the betterment of Hong Kong. Despite his incompetence in the job, I wish him a happy retirement. As for his successor Mr. Donald Tsang, he is known for his quick temper and insincerity. I don't think he can last very long if he doesn't change his arrogant attitude, which he learnt from his former colonial masters, namely British colonial civil servant.
Laurie Lau, Hong Kong

So now a well-intentioned amateur is replaced by a skilled career civil-servant. We might expect less plunders and silly mistakes which characterised Tung's rule. But as always, the whole thing is decided on our behalf, and we Hong Kong-ers have no say in our future; fear and apprehension are always before us.
George Lam, Hong Kong

This is not surprising. It seems to have been in the pipeline since the start of Tung's second term. Even the ill health "reason" was an odds on favourite. And of course he played a role - despite the "one country, two systems" policy, China rules Hong Kong. We may have a new puppet but the strings - and those pulling them - remain the same.
H, Hong Kong

He was not able leader but he has done his best
Gareth Tse, Hong Kong
The departure of Tung Chee-hwa is a sad one. He was not able leader but he has done his best. He failure as the Chief Executive for Hong Kong lay in the fact that he lacked the political skills as well as the capability. Also, he was bullied so much that I believe he had lost his confidence. No one can stand such long-term psychological pressure. So I hope the new Chief Executive will have an iron will and toughness to push through his policies
Gareth Tse, Hong Kong

Tung was a serial bungler (evidenced by his mismanagement of the SARS crisis, the harbour festival, and his mollycoddling of rich business friends), but what really undermined his popularity was his attempt to permanently solve the housing crisis when he took over in 1997. He made a commitment to complete 85,000 domestic units per annum, and as the first few 1,000 units came to market he wiped out decades of raging house price inflation. This alienated both existing house owners who were plunged into negative equity and the all-powerful developers who saw their 50-60% profit margins disappear. There's a message here for Prescott's plans for the UK housing market - dabble in it at your peril!
Angus, Hong Kong SAR

China plays a role in anything that goes on at a governance level in Hong Kong - to pretend otherwise is just being naive. Perhaps China want another stooge in power who is a little subtler about his (because it will of course be a man) allegiance to the PRC.
Rustam Roy, London, UK

He was pretty much under Beijing's thumb all the time. With his departure from politics we cannot expect a U-turn, since we can be sure that the decision has already been made, back in Beijing. Nowadays China is seemingly tightening all the leads: first that of Taiwan and now comes Hong Kong.
Mary McCannon, Budapest, Hungary

This is the biggest storm in a teacup for a long while
Kwok Ho, Sydney Australia
This is the biggest storm in a teacup for a long while. So a 68 year old wishes to retire due to health reasons, why not? By the way why do you (BBC) say " he was picked to run the former British colony."? He had to beat three other candidates for the chief executive position (twice). You must have mistaken him for British governors of old who were hand picked by Whitehall; and no votes.
Kwok Ho, Sydney Australia

It depends. The optimistic view is that mainland China wants Tsang because they believe he can reflect Hong Kong people and represent Hong Kong well in international settings. The pessimistic one is that Tsang has either been picked for "loyalty" or will shortly be replaced by an apparatchik. I'm optimistic for now. I think China has realised this place is ungovernable with bad government. Give Hong Kong some face and it will do well. Oppress it, and there'll be another July 1st March and worse.
Gary, Hong Kong

So when will Hong Kong people be allowed to decide who is their Chief Executive? I don't see that happening anytime soon - whoever is installed as the next CE will just be another puppet of his masters in Beijing.
Adam, Hong Kong

Hong Kong is part of China now. One country, two systems is just a way of allowing the west and liberal Hong Kong residents to save face. In reality Beijing has always held all the cards and pulled all the strings post 1997 - the Tung affair just highlights this.
Oliver Gosling, Kendal, UK

He had good intentions and a good heart - but that's not enough in politics! He was also bullied by his 'advisors'. The next guy will have to have courage and integrity - but let's face it, where in the world does that exist?
Brendan, Hong Kong

Nothing will change, he will be replaced by someone who is either the same in principles as he was or someone even more supportive of China's policies. The only thing that will happen will be more restrictions and less freedom in Hong Kong.
Marc Woodhall, Burton upon Trent, England

The decision was not his own - and almost certainly came from Beijing
Duncan Cave, Hong Kong
One can tell from the way the information concerning Mr Tung's resignation had been leaked last week that the decision was not his own - and almost certainly came from Beijing. Most HK-ers will be glad to see the end of his rule. He is not disliked, rather seen as incompetent. Now we all know the truth - that HK is run from Beijing. Let's hope that they pick someone more suitable for Mr Tung's replacement.
Duncan Cave, Hong Kong

The exit of Mr Tung closes a turbulent chapter in the post-colonial history of Hong Kong. I have high hopes that the next Chief Executive will learn from the mistakes of his predecessor and deliver economic prosperity and social justice to all the people of Hong Kong.
Alan Chan, Hong Kong

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20 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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