Speech seen as call to end split
The central government is concerned about conflicts within the Beijing-loyalist camp, analysts and politicians say, as maintaining social harmony topped the list of four expectations raised by President Hu Jintao in his speech.
They said infighting among politicians in the camp was unprecedented, arousing Beijing's concerns about its effect on governance under new chief executive Leung Chun-ying.
Hu, speaking at the 15th anniversary of the handover and the inaugural ceremony of its fourth cabinet, urged the government and Hongkongers to 'work harder' in four detailed areas.
'Harmony and stability underpin development ... [the government has to] accurately gauge public opinion and take concrete and effective measures to properly address issues concerning people's livelihood and social tensions,' he said of the first issue.
The second and third areas were upholding the authority of the Basic Law and enhancing competitiveness. The fourth was strengthening human resources development.
While Leung's cabinet and the Executive Council have been criticised for being filled with lightweights, Hu asked the city to nurture 'outstanding young political leaders' who 'love the motherland'.
Hu added: 'Hong Kong people from all walks of life should take the overall situation into consideration to achieve unity under the flag of patriotism, support the new government and enhance the social cohesion in Hong Kong.'
He also reiterated the importance of implementing the principle of 'one country, two systems' and maintaining a high degree of autonomy under the Basic Law.
'The origin and purpose of the central government's policy direction were to ... maintain the power of the central government and protect the autonomy of Hong Kong SAR, maintain the national interest and the interest of Hong Kong people from various social strata, support Hong Kong to develop links with foreign countries and to guard against the intervention of external forces into Hong Kong affairs.'
Seven years since Premier Wen Jiabao asked former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in 2005 to solve 'deep-rooted conflicts' in the city, the president also asked Leung to resolve 'deep-rooted conflicts' and challenges.
Hu also told Leung's cabinet, at a meeting after the ceremony, to govern in accordance with the law, seek unity, deliver people-based policies and strive for long-term visions.
Veteran China commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Hu's speech was carefully crafted to stress ending struggles among Beijing loyalists, echoing a speech of leader-in-waiting Vice-President Xi Jinping.
The Beijing-loyalist camp was seen as heavily split after the chief executive race in which Leung, with 689 votes from the 1,193-strong Election Committee, beat Henry Tang Ying-yen, who got 285 votes.
'Last month Xi called for harmony when he met Leung and Tsang and asked that their supporters stop the infighting,' Lau said.
Calls for social harmony and stability were among 'four major points' Hu raised during the ceremony for 10th anniversary of the handover. The other two points were complying with the Basic Law and giving priority to economic development.
Lau, commenting on Hu's remark that the next five years were of great importance, said: 'The challenge is not only for the economy, it is also for universal suffrage.'
Lingnan University political scientist Professor Li Pang-kwong said: 'Political disharmony is clearly seen between various pro-government groups. People's lack of trust towards the government is also a chronic and apparent problem.' But he could not see room for an end to the deadlock 'which has lasted for over a decade'.
'Leung is vulnerable to the pressure in the legislature and popularity in particular,' Li said. 'These are the obstacles for Leung to bring in policy improvements.'
Yesterday Leung was sworn in with an incomplete ministerial team as his government shake-up plan is still stranded in Legco.
'I will ... safeguard the rule of law, clean government, freedom and democracy, which are among the core values of Hong Kong,' Leung - plagued by a controversy over illegal structures at his property on The Peak - said in his inaugural speech.