August 25, 2019 / 4:58 AM / a year ago

Gambling hub Macau chooses Beijing-backed man as leader

FILE PHOTO: Ho Iat Seng, the candidate for Macau chief executive, speaks at a news conference in Macau, China, August 10, 2019. Picture taken August 10, 2019. Zhang Wei/CNS via REUTERS

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The Chinese territory of Macau elected former legislature head Ho Iat Seng as its leader on Sunday - the sole approved candidate.

Ho, who has deep ties to China, is expected to cement Beijing’s control over the special administrative region and distance it from protests in neighboring Hong Kong.

He secured 392 votes from a 400-member pro-Beijing committee to lead the world’s largest gambling hub for at least the next five years, public broadcaster TDM reported.

The 62-year-old’s highly scripted appointment comes as the former Portuguese colony tries to position itself as a beacon of stability and model for the Chinese government’s “one country, two systems” formula through which Beijing administers Macau and Hong Kong.

Although anti-government protests have roiled the former British colony of Hong Kong for nearly three months, Macau has seen little dissent to Beijing’s rule.

Ho said local youth could resist the influence of Hong Kong’s protesters and support measures to boost patriotism in Macau.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

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