On December 11, 1996, Tung Chee-hwa, a shipping magnate whose family had fled communist rule in China almost five decades earlier, was chosen chief executive-designate of post-1997 Hong Kong. He was selected from a field of three candidates that included Ti-liang Yang, Hong Kong's chief justice until he resigned to run for chief executive, and Peter Woo, one of the most important businesspeople in Hong Kong.
The event was epochal. In the past, Hong Kong governors had been appointed in London without any consultation with Hong Kong's populace. This time, all the candidates were from Hong Kong, and Tung was chosen after weeks of campaigning. The candidates were questioned on issues ranging from education, housing, and transportation to such sensitive political matters as how to deal with Chinese dissidents and whether rallies to commemorate the military crackdown in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, should continue.
Tung was chosen by the 400-member
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