Chinese Parliamentary Sessions 2013
March 2013 sees the annual meeting of the two legislative and consultative bodies of China, where major policies are decided and key government officials appointed. The National People's Congress (NPC) is held in the Great Hall of the People in China's capital, Beijing, and with 2,987 members, is the largest parliament in the world. It gathers alongside the People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) whose members represent various groups of society.
Beijing concerned about national identity in Hong Kong youth
The central government tells local deputies to NPC it's worried about a lack of nationalism
Colleen Lee and Gary Cheung
Beijing is said to be "gravely concerned" that Hong Kong youth lack a sense of national identity.
A Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, Michael Tien Puk-sun, said yesterday that the issue was raised at a meeting of local deputies in Shenzhen.
The Standing Committee's deputy secretary-general, Qiao Xiaoyang, read out a letter by vice-chairman Li Jianguo expressing Beijing's concern.
"He said the central government was gravely concerned," Tien said, citing the letter.
"The reason why they see a problem is that polls have found that more people identified themselves as Hongkongers instead of Chinese. Some have even waved the old Hong Kong flag, and there was strong opposition to the introduction of national education."
Tien said that after the handover Beijing had hoped the mainland and Hong Kong would grow closer. It feared that if Hong Kong youth resisted the motherland, the two sides would grow apart.
The Shenzhen gathering was the first working meeting since the 36 deputies were elected last month.
Qiao cited the letter as noting Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's recent difficulties and expressing hope that Leung and his election rival Henry Tang Ying-yen could set aside their differences, Tien said.
"Qiao cited Li as saying that when we give advice or criticise the policies of the government or the chief executive, it should be based on facts and be reasonable," he added.
Tien said the official's remarks could imply that Beijing found the pro-establishment camp was not united enough.
Another deputy, Cheung Ming-man, said he believed Beijing was concerned about social conflicts in the city.
Delegate Chan Yung said Qiao expressed hopes that different sectors of the community could unite to support the Hong Kong government to rule in accordance with the law.
In April, President Hu Jintao and Wang Guangya , director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council, also called for unity in the city.
Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, a deputy who was not at yesterday's meeting, said she did not think most people in Hong Kong wanted independence. "Only a tiny minority holds such radical views," Law said.
Commenting on the concern about youth disaffection, she added: "I think there is no need to exaggerate the matter, although I agree there is a need to step up dialogue with young people and give them a whole picture of the nation's development."
Maria Tam Wai-chu was selected as convenor of the Hong Kong delegation at yesterday's meeting.
Lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok and China Travel Service (Holdings) Hong Kong board member Lo Sui-on were appointed deputy convenors.