A top Communist Party official urged Hong Kong delegates to engage with the city’s youth, as he launched China’s two-week-long political high season with the opening of the political advisory body’s

annual session yesterday.

In a keynote speech, Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, urged delegates to “resist and oppose anything” that might “violate, undermine and weaken political foundation for consensus”.

“[We should] make efforts to consolidate our existing consensus and unite our thoughts to form a new consensus,” Yu said at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing.

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The so-called ‘Two Sessions’ – of the CPPCC and the National People’s Congress, the legislature, which begins tomorrow – coincide this year with a controversial ideological campaign.

The campaign appears to be promoting the president and party chief Xi Jinping to a status rivalling that of Mao Zedong.

It also appears to be tightening controls on public life, from academia to the media.

The sessions also come at a politically sensitive time on the mainland, with leaders calling on cadres to be loyal to the party.

Yu said the party’s leadership should be maintained, but he also urged advisers to carry out their duty “to reflect public opinion and strengthen democratic oversight of government”, by giving advice, proposing motions, making speeches, and carrying out research and investigations.

Yu was addressing more than 2,000 political advisers, 200 of whom were from Hong Kong, who had gathered to discuss major political, economic and social issues.

The highlights of this year’s Two Sessions will be Premier Li Keqiang’s 2016 Government Work Report and the 13th five-year plan.

Yu urged advisers to devote their main efforts to making suggestions and proposals related to the implementation of the 13th five-year plan.

Yu said the CPPCC would encourage Hong Kong and Macau delegates “to play an active role both in the mainland and in their respective regions and contribute to deepening cooperation” between the two.

“We will extensively and thoroughly participate in work related to young people in Hong Kong and Macau,” Yu said.

Yu’s report came days after Hong Kong localist Edward Leung Tin-kei, 24, won more than 66,000 votes in a Legislative Council by-election, coming third.

Reviewing the CPPCC’s work last year, Yu cited study trips provided for young Hongkongers. He said: “We channelled greater efforts into our work relating to young people in Hong Kong ... and helped raise their sense of national identity.”

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Yu reiterated that Beijing would “support the chief executives and governments” of Hong Kong and Macau, and “strictly abide by the constitution and the basic laws” of the two regions.

A source familiar with the Hong Kong section of the government work report said Li would reiterate Beijing’s pledge to the city – to implement the principles of “one country, two systems”, of the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong, and of a high degree of autonomy for the city.

CPPCC standing committee member Henry Tang Ying-yen, defeated by Leung Chun-ying in the 2012 chief executive race, said: “The chief executive, the government and relevant parties should be keener to listen to the voice of the people, including the young.”

However, concluding the second day of his visit in Beijing, Leung insisted that his administration had spent much time working on youth and education.

“We cannot say our work is perfect, but the government is willing to listen to voices on the improvement of youth work,” Leung said.

Leung was speaking after a meeting with the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Wang Gunagya, during which they touched on the 13th five-year plan, but Leung said Wang did not comment on his performance nor the 2017 chief executive race.

Meanwhile, Yu vowed to promote peaceful relations with Taiwan under the so-called “1992 Consensus”, which states the “one China” principle.

Cross-strait relations face strain following the landslide victory of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party in the island’s recent presidential and parliamentary elections.

President-in-waiting Tsai Ing-wen says she will maintain the status quo but refuses to accept Beijing’s “1992 Consensus”, which was reached between the opposition Kuomintang and Beijing.
Additional reporting by Christy Leung

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