Foreign newspapers bade farewell Friday to Hong Kong's "amiable but inept" former leader Tung Chee-hwa while mainland journals chose to highlight what they called the "official resignation" of the Chief Executive.
A survey of both Chinese- and English-language media outlets showed that mainland newspapers, keeping in line with tradition, avoided the resignation speculation that had been rife in the foreign press for two weeks.
Unlike most local Chinese-language papers, the weekly Yazhou Zhoukan, took an unusual angle to praise Tung's "hidden contribution" in making the past seven years "Hong Kong's freest."
In a feature story it reported that Tung did not resort to "dirty politics" or tax audits to battle his opponents and hence enabled Hong Kong to enjoy "the world's freest lifestyle" and "fearless freedom."
Tung's resignation was carried by most online mainland media. Many tended to take a laudatory stance.
A headline on People.net read "Tung sad in leaving and sincere in thanking the people." On the PhoenixTV.com Web site the headline declared "The Age of Tung and the pioneering of One Country, Two Systems shine in history."
A story on Sina.com.cn described Tung as "hardworking" and "tireless" and reported that "the news of the resignation was accepted calmly by Hong Kong people." It also said that Tung's "political contribution over the past five years and his leadership won widespread support from election committee members and Hong Kongers."
In the foreign media, Tung was labelled an unfortunate and ineffective political manager.
The Financial Times took the confusion surrounding Tung's resignation as an opportunity to throw barbs at the Chinese leadership. It said Tung's failure to acknowledge leaks about his resignation "confirmed his weakness" and showed that Beijing was pulling the strings in Hong Kong.
"The truth is that Beijing ditched him because it needed someone more effective, not because it wanted to please Hong Kong's people," the Financial Times editorial said.
The Times of London said in an editorial: "Mr Tung has been an indecisive, yet also an inflexible, manager."
Beijing should "acknowledge democratic demands for a genuinely elected chief executive," it added.The New York Times quoted pro-democracy legislator James To as saying: "His resignation is at least partly due to people power, so it is partly the people's victory."
The Financial Times quoted a Standard & Poors analyst as saying on Friday that the coming process of putting Tsang in power will have no impact on the economy. It kept its financial rating for Hong Kong at A plus.
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