Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (
Beijing hasn't announced whether it would accept Tung's resignation, but it was widely believed that his departure was a carefully scripted event approved by the Chinese Communist Party leaders in advance.
Tung's announcement Thursday put an end to a political guessing game that dragged on for nearly two weeks.
The 67-year-old leader rejected widespread speculation that China was dumping him because of poor leadership. Tung insisted that he was leaving because fatigue was preventing him from keeping up with the long work hours.
Gao Siren (
Today in Beijing, Tung is expected to be named vice chairman on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference -- an elite advisory body to the Chinese legislature. The position is usually reserved for retired leaders.
His Hong Kong job would be temporarily filled by the No. 2 ranking official, Donald Tsang (
Analysts believe Tsang -- a popular career civil servant who has nearly 40 years of experience helping run the government -- will do a better job than his boss.
"He clearly is a more capable ruler than Tung," said James Sung,(
But unlike Tung, Tsang, who has good relations with some leading pro-democracy lawmakers, doesn't yet have Beijing's complete trust, Sung said.
He predicted that China will pressure Tsang to prove his loyalty and be harder on the pro-democracy forces.
China's "central government will likely follow up with more political measures to further clamp down on the political space in Hong Kong," Sung said.