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The state leader in Beijing overseeing Hong Kong affairs has urged the city to safeguard the city’s rule of law and develop the economy, while promising that the “one country, two

systems” principle will not change.

National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang – who yesterday addressed about 200 Hong Kong delegates to the nation’s top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – was also quoted by a delegate as criticising some Hongkongers for “opposing everything about Beijing and inciting a riot”, a reference to the radical protesters who clashed with police in Mong Kok last month.

Apart from that, Zhang’s address in the capital was described as “relatively moderate”, as he made no mention of pan-democrat lawmakers, localism, last weekend’s by-election or September’s Legislative Council polls, according to CPPCC delegate Eliza Chan Ching-har.

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Chan said: “Zhang had three main messages for Hong Kong. Firstly, he said we must reaffirm our confidence and not sway”, a reference to Beijing’s determination to boost China’s economy and uphold “one country, two systems”.

“Secondly, we must seize opportunities and develop; and thirdly, we have to safeguard the city’s rule of law and stability … because while people have freedom and rights, the rule of law is the baseline” for Hong Kong.

On the “one country, two ­systems” principle, CPPCC delegate Samuel Yung Wing-ki quoted Zhang as saying: “There are new situations and new problems in Hong Kong, and some people are worried that the principle would change … but these worries are unnecessary.”

Yung said: “Zhang also said the ‘one country, two systems’ principle is firm and unswerving; it would not sway or change.”

Speaking a day after CPPCC chairman Yu Zhengsheng urged Hong Kong delegates to participate in youth work, Zhang also described young people’s employment as “a problem faced by many countries”. He urged the city to boost its competitiveness by depending on the mainland and working along the nation’s 13th five-year plan, Chan said.

According to the delegates, Zhang was relatively more critical of dissident voices when he talked about the rule of law.

“Zhang said there are people who oppose everything about China. He said it’s not a blessing to incite a riot in the city, and we must handle offenders according to the law,” Yung said.

State broadcaster CCTV quoted Zhang as saying Hong Kong must “maintain an environment that is good for business and stable to live in, and not appease acts that challenge the rule of law”.

On the sidelines of Zhang’s meeting with delegates, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Wang Guangya also broke his silence on the Mong Kok riot. “Hongkongers should have a correct understanding and judgement on the damages bought by [the incident] to Hong Kong,” he said, adding the acts of a small number of people would not win the support of the public at large.

Rao Geping, a Basic Law Committee member, also warned that Beijing would not sit idly in the face of “attempts to secede Hong Kong from the country”.

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