Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung has said he will not seek re-election in March, citing family reasons for the surprise announcement.
Speaking at a news conference, Mr Leung said: “If I run my family will suffer an intolerable stress.”
Mr Leung has often been accused by pro-democracy campaigners of putting China’s interests above those of the people of Hong Kong.
He will step down when his term ends in July 2017.
His successor will be elected by a 1,200-member, mostly pro-Beijing, Election Committee, rather than by the wider electorate.
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In 2014, two years after Mr Leung took office, massive pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong failed to win any concessions from him or from China, and he was vilified by protesters who accused him of being too close to Beijing.
He said that he was stepping down out of “responsibility as a father and a husband”, and not because of his perceived unpopularity.
He did not want to give further details of his family situation.
According to reports in Hong Kong media, Mr Leung’s 25-year-old daughter has been in hospital for more than a month, although the reasons are unclear.
He added that “the central authorities including the top leaders in the country have been very supportive of my work all these years”.
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