HONG KONG – On Sunday morning, a select group of tycoons, business leaders, politicians and trade and industry group representatives will gather in a cavernous exhibition center to vote for the next leader of Hong Kong.
Three candidates are on the ballot but there's little uncertainty about who the winner will be, with China's communist leaders already signaling early on their preference to the election committee, which is stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists.
The winner will replace the outgoing leader, deeply unpopular Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who won with barely half the committee's votes five years ago.
The system was at the heart of 2014's unprecedented pro-democracy protests, with student leaders demanding full democracy but Beijing insisting that candidates be screened. The activists decry Hong Kong's system to elect its top leader, saying it amounts to an "anointment" or a "fake election." The "Umbrella Movement" protests ended without a satisfying resolution, leaving behind a turbulent and murky political situation and increasingly bitter social divisions in the former British colony.
The winner of the vote is widely expected to be Hong Kong's former No. 2 official, Carrie Lam, whom Beijing has been lobbying for. A career civil servant and devout Catholic, she's seen as loyal to Beijing but for that very is unpopular with ordinary residents, who also think she can't connect with ordinary people.
Rival John "Pringles" Tsang, so named because his moustache draws comparisons to the tubular snack character, is a favorite with the public because of his common touch.
A third candidate, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, has little chance of success, in part because he has outlined a plan to eventually implement universal suffrage.
To get on the ballot, candidates needed the backing of the election committee. Some candidates didn't make the cut, including ex-security chief Regina Ip, a hardliner who failed to garner enough nominations.
Here are a selection of photos of the candidates and their campaigns by Associated Press photographer Vincent Yu.