Xi speaks of unity, not his pick for HK
Tanna Chong and Teddy Ng in Beijing
China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping yesterday warned the Hong Kong people that they must stay united - but gave no hint about his stance on the city's chief executive contest.
Despite mounting speculation to the contrary, the vice-president revealed nothing during the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing about the party's preference between the two front runners in Hong Kong's unusually contentious leadership fight.
He met Hong Kong deputies, but did not talk about Leung Chun-ying or Henry Tang Ying-yen and made no mention of the March 25 poll, according to Xinhua reports and delegates to the top advisory body.
Instead, the vice-president urged Hongkongers to 'stay united among brothers for the greatest strength', according attendees at the meeting.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen - in Beijing for the gathering - vowed to serve until the end of his term despite questions about his dealings with tycoons. He said the central government was fully aware of his situation.
Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and a local deputy, said Xi was concerned about the city's disunity.
'Xi said that when two brothers are of the same mind their sharpness can cut through metal,' Tam said. 'Xi called for better unity in Hong Kong to face future development problems.' Tam said the DAB would decide soon whether to vote unanimously for a particular candidate.
Chan Kam-lam, another DAB lawmaker, said Xi told the delegates that 'harmony is a fortune ... [and] turmoil is a disaster'.
According to state news agency Xinhua, Xi also told the deputies to 'more actively participate in social-political affairs and maintain the stability and harmony of the society'.
He advised them to 'strive for rational communication for the greatest tolerance' of opinions.
Cheung Kong Holdings vice-chairman Victor Li Tzar-kuoi said he was not lobbied by the central government. '[My choice] depends on the observations in the past 10 or 20 years, not the past two or three months,' he said.
Lew Mon-hung, a strong supporter of Leung, was the first delegate who shook hands with Xi - despite custom dictating that the CPPCC's standing committee members should be first. Another Leung supporter, Shui On Group chairman Vincent Lo Hong-sui, was the second.