Hong Kong's leader-elect Carrie Lam says first task is to reduce social tensions

John Tsang (L) congratulates Carrie Lam as Woo Kwok-hing stands next to them after Lam won the election for Hong Kong's next Chief Executive in Hong Kong, China March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Carrie Lam, who won an election to become Hong Kong’s first female chief executive on Sunday, said afterwards that her first job is to reduce social tensions.

She was chosen from among several candidates by a 1,200-person “election committee” stacked with pro-Beijing and pro-establishment loyalists.

Most of Hong Kong’s 7.3 million voters have no say in the choice of leader in the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The election took place at a time when tensions with Beijing have been on the rise.

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.

Reporting by Venus Wu; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Richard Borsuk