Losing chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen appeared to brush aside the question of whether pan-democrats could be considered patriotic enough to run in the next leadership race.
The newly elected member of Beijing's top advisory body said yesterday that anyone who cared about the country and Hong Kong's development could be viewed as loving the nation and the SAR - conditions laid down by Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference spokvague on esman Lu Xinhua on Saturday for the chief executive to be elected by universal suffrage in 2017.
Tang, who lost to Leung Chun-ying in last year's chief executive election, is widely expected to be elevated to the Standing Committee of the CPPCC next Monday.
As a first-time member, Tang said he was pleased that CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin's work report, as in the past, had mentioned the 12th five-year plan, which he said could benefit Hong Kong. The 12th five-year plan - ending in 2015 - offers support for Hong Kong to develop its key industries.
Tang said he would offer four proposals on trade and Hong Kong's position as an international city.
Asked if he believed those who loved the nation and Hong Kong included pan-democrats, Tang replied: "In my eyes, anyone who helps with the country and Hong Kong's development, and fosters economic, social and political improvements could be considered as contributing to Hong Kong. Who is eligible to become a chief executive candidate is stipulated in the election law and the Basic Law. Anyone who falls into those criteria should be able to stand."
Pressed if he fitted Lu's criteria, Tang said: "A majority of Hongkongers love the nation and Hong Kong."
Lu yesterday said it was not up to him to say if pan-democrats loved the nation and the SAR, but for Hongkongers to judge.
Tang proposed that Beijing make better use of Hong Kong as an off-shore renminbi centre and diversify the city's yuan business.
He also suggested the two sides could study ways to integrate the A-share and H-share markets in Hong Kong, and that Hong Kong and Guangdong should further boost trade under Cepa, the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.
Meanwhile, NPC deputy Maria Tam Wai-chu was elected as chief of the Hong Kong delegation of the NPC yesterday in a preparatory meeting before the plenary session opens tomorrow.
A source said Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai and Tam were in the proposed NPC presidium list, meaning Fan was likely to defend her NPC Standing Committee seat.