Executive Council member Bernard Chan has called on the government to involve young people more in its decision-making process.

In an interview with the Post in Beijing, Chan said the government

should change its existing top-down approach to canvassing views among the public, particularly regarding matters relating to young people.

His call came a day after Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, urged Hong Kong’s delegates to the body to engage with young people in the city.

But yesterday in Hong Kong, a former senior mainland envoy, Zhang Junsheng, criticised the city’s young people for a lack of understanding of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, and for acting “blindly” during the Mong Kok riot.

READ MORE: Beyond the by-election: Hong Kong’s young people fuel rise of localism

Chan said “the government needs to make young people feel they are part of the process, rather than just listening to their views on the proposals put forward by the administration”.

“You need to let young people come up with their own plans and decisions, so they will have a sense of ownership in the public engagement process,” he said.

In the New Territories East Legislative Council by-election on February 28, localist candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei, 24, won more than 66,000 votes. Though he lost the election, his 15.4 per cent share of the vote stunned many pundits and politicians.

Chan said Leung’s sizeable vote share indicated some young people were not happy with the political landscape.

Chan, who has been tipped as a potential candidate for the 2017 chief executive election, said trust would be one of the most crucial qualities the next chief executive would need to resolve the political stalemate in the city.

But he said he had no intention of running for the top job because he had to run his family business.

Zhang, a former deputy director of New China News Agency in Hong Kong, was asked about the rise of localism and talk of Hong Kong independence, which he dismissed as “a joke”.

“Wrong understanding will lead to wrong judgments and in turn wrong actions … Hong Kong is a part of China,” Zhang told Cable TV in Beijing. “What localism? Independence? Is it a joke?”

On political reform in Hong Kong, Zhang said: “What is genuine universal suffrage and what is fake universal suffrage? [The way to universal suffrage] has been stated in the Basic Law.

“When the Basic Law was drafted, I’m not sure where those students were … A cell on their bodies was not even formed at that time.”

Additional reporting by Ng Kang-chung

Browse photography at Denver.Gallery.