Hong Kong's first female leader a 'tilted bridge' over troubled water
Carrie Lam, who won an election to become Hong Kong's first female chief executive on Sunday, is a former student activist who climbed the rungs of the civil service over 36 years, and a tough, capable and possibly divisive Beijing-backed leader.
Lam, 59, most recently Hong Kong's number two official, has to unify the Chinese-ruled city as public resentment swells at Beijing's growing interference in its affairs despite being promised a high degree of autonomy. She also has to reinvigorate the economy and address growing social inequalities and high property prices.
Several sources who have worked with Lam say she's intelligent, hard-working and able to push controversial government policies, earning her the trust of Beijing factions who strongly lobbied for votes on her behalf.
But her hardline and pro-Beijing tendencies, say critics and opposition democrats, risk sowing further social divisions in the former British colony that returned to China 20 years ago under a "once country, two systems" formula that guarantees it wide-ranging freedoms. "Lam is a nightmare for Hong Kong," said student activist Joshua Wong, 20, one of the leaders of the student-led "Umbrella Movement" protests in 2014.
Lam's popularity began to slip just as a younger generation of protesters rose to prominence, during the course of her election campaign this year.