A former high-ranking Hong Kong government official who is widely expected to be chosen as the territory's next leader confirmed his candidacy Saturday.
Henry Tang said he wants to be the city's third postcolonial leader. The current chief executive, Donald Tsang, is scheduled to step down in 2012 after seven years at the helm.
Hong Kong's next leader will be chosen by a 1,200-member committee dominated by pro-Beijing figures that will be formed in December. Local news reports have said for months that Tang is seen as Beijing's favorite for the job.
Tang was the second-highest ranking government official until September, when he quit to mull a bid for the top job.
"I did not arrive at this decision easily because Hong Kong has many challenges, but I believe I have the experience and the ability to galvanize the community," Tang said.
Rival Leung Chun-ying, who is also a former government official, is set to announce his candidacy on Sunday. Opinion polls indicate Leung is much more popular than Tang.
Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but has kept its own political and financial system and a wide degree of autonomy under a principle known as "one country, two systems."
Hong Kong's mini-constitution promises eventual democracy and Western-style civil liberties not seen in the mainland.