A 59-year-old pro-Beijing businessman has been selected as Hong Kong's first post-colonial Chief Executive.
Tung Chee-hwa will govern the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong when its sovereignty is transferred to China on 1st July next year.
Tung, a shipping tycoon, won with 320 of the 398 valid votes.
It was a fateful morning for Hong Kong as Selection Committee members gathered at the city's Convention and Exhibition Centre to drop their ballots on the future of the territory.
The 400-strong committee had been appointed by Beijing based on nominations from the Hong Kong public.
Among its members - a broad spectrum of Hong Kong society; ranging from big business to trade unions, clerics and former politicians.
The outcome of the vote was an overwhelming success for the leading candidate - with 320 of the 398 valid votes, Tung Chee-hwa left his two opponents far behind.
The chairman of the proceedings, China's Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, announced the name of the winner.
"I now declare that Mr. Tung has been elected Chief Executive of the first Hong Kong Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China."
SUPER CAPTION: Qian Qichen, Chinese Foreign Minister
Tung will officially take over the post from British Governor Chris Patten on July 1, 1997.
He has long fostered a close relationship with the Chinese mainland.
And with relatives in Taiwan, Tung is also seen as someone who can help Taipei and Beijing toward reunification.
After the vote, Tung held a brief press conference for journalists.
The pressures and responsibilities of the large job now ahead of him did not seem to dampen his spirits.
"At this moment, I am very excited. Because 400 Selection Committee members and six million people have given me my proudest moment in life. But I must alert myself that this job will definitely have its difficulties and challenges. But I have full confidence. Confidence in myself, confidence in the 400 Selection Committee members and I have confidence in the six million Hong Kong residents."
SUPER CAPTION: Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong Chief Executive Designate
Tung said his future plans will include a meeting with Governor Chris Patten as well as with Chinese officials in Beijing.
Martin Lee, Chairman of the Democratic Party who had demanded an election by universal suffrage, said Tung now had to learn how to stand up for Hong Kong's interests.
"I am afraid he said many things which make the people of Hong Kong feel that he was actually playing the role of China's spokesman of Hong Kong and I can only hope that now that he is elected, he would learn to become the champion of Hong Kong rights
and what the people of Hong Kong want."
SUPER CAPTION: Martin Lee, Chairman of the Democratic Party
As members of the Selection Committee filed out of the convention hall, many were happy with the result of the selection process.
"I think I went through a very serious analysis before voting for Mr. Tung. He, in various aspects is worthy of my support. His international relationships, his knowledge of the Chinese government, his communication skills with leaders and his outlook for Hong Kong is much more comprehensive in comparison to the other two candidates."
SUPER CAPTION: Lisa Wang, Selection Committee Member
"I think the most important thing is that he(Tung) provides stability within the territory. Economically speaking, I hope he helps us to prosper and make more money."
SUPER CAPTION: Stanley Ho, Selection Committee Member
"I think that Hong Kong residents should be very happy. This was an open vote, by 400 voters from various sectors of the community. It's an anonymous vote, therefore people will not be influenced by the votes of others."
SUPER CAPTION: Lee Kar Shing, Selection Committee Member/Business Tycoon
But not everyone was quite so pleased with the results of the day.
Dozens of angry protesters gathered outside the Convention centre, carrying banners and shouting amid massive police presence.
They allege the election process was undemocratic and that that they were now condemned to live under a dictatorship.