The race to become Hong Kong's next chief executive is getting more interesting.
Earlier this week Leung Chun-ying found out popularity with Hong Kong people doesn't necessarily translate into votes. Last weekend some 65,500 professionals and business people cast their votes for the 1,200 people who will actually decide the next chief executive.
Leung barely scraped by with 50 of the 1,200 votes, while his adversary Tang Ying-yen has a comfortable lead with 300 to 400 votes. However some 700 are still undecided.
Apparently this spooked Leung and he made a pilgrimage Tuesday evening to the central government's Liaison Office to see what Beijing thought of him. Tang did the same thing.
Both were tight-lipped about their visits.
James Sung Lap-kung, a lecturer on public & social administration at City University said Beijing was not ready to reveal its preference yet.
"Beijing wants to see if Tang can win back more public support and observe his performance in the coming weeks [before publicly backing him]. I don't think they will give a clear blessing to either one until mid-January," Sung said.
Most would think Tang's campaign is a slam dunk, but not for long.
Apple Daily is reporting Vice President Xi Jinping is throwing his weight behind Leung, along with former vice president Zeng Qinghong during the Jiang Zemin years.
The paper is speculating Beijing not only wants someone capable but also popular with Hong Kong people...
Meanwhile Chinese University political scientist Ma Ngok said Tang and Leung's meetings showed that Beijing's interference in the chief executive race had become increasingly blatant.
"There is no such thing as an iron-clad vote -- a signal from Beijing can take away all the support from one camp," said Ma.
While the two previous chief executive races were pretty much done deals, this one is definitely making things more interesting.