A former propery consultant has been elected as the new chief executive of Hong Kong, according to a live televised stream of the vote count.

Leung Chun-ying had been considered the favourite to win Sunday's vote after securing the support of the semi-autonomous territory's main pro-Beijing party.

Applause broke out from delegates on the floor of the tally room as his count ticked up to a winning tally of 689, well ahead of his main rival Henry Tang with 285 and pro-democracy candidate Albert Ho on 76.

Just 1,200 Hong Kong business, labour and political leaders were eligible to vote in the election of the city's next leader, which had prompted the hardest fought campaign since the handover to Chinese rule in 1997.

An official for China's liaison office with Hong Kong congratulated Leung on his victory and told the state Xinhua news agency that he would lead an administration "to unite all circles of society".

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists packed the streets around the harbourside convention centre where the committee meeting was taking place, shouting slogans demanding "direct elections".

The vast majority of Hong Kong's seven million residents have no right to vote in the "small circle" poll, according to the One Country, Two Systems arrangement by which China rules the former British colony.

Tang, a former businessman, had initially been seen as Beijing's preferred choice to replace outgoing chief executive Donald Tsang, but his gaffe-ridden campaign disappointed his backers among the city's powerful tycoons and saw his public approval ratings plunge below 20 percent.

Leung, 57, a self-made Hong Kong-born surveyor with deep China connections and a reputation as a tough political operator, told reporters earlier that he hoped to build broad community support for his leadership.

"Every resident has their own view about the election. I will try my best to get rid of people's negative perception about this election," he said.

Source: Agencies