A top mainland official in charge of Hong Kong affairs has rejected concerns that Beijing is tightening its policies towards the city.
Wang Guangya told Beijing-loyalist lawmakers last week that the central government had consistently upheld, and continued to uphold, the principle that "'one country' is the premise and foundation for 'two systems'" - a reference to the "one country, two systems" formula guiding Hong Kong affairs under Chinese sovereignty.
Wang, director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, made the remark amid heated debate in the city about electoral reform.
Wang's speech was published on his office's website on Friday night. A speech given by Qiao Xiaoyang, chairman of the National People's Congress Law Committee, to the same group of legislators was uploaded to the website of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
During the meeting, Wang said there was "no question" of Beijing tightening its policies towards Hong Kong.
" 'One country' and 'two systems' are an organic whole … that cannot be split," he said. "One country is the premise and foundation for two systems. Without 'one country', there are no 'two systems'. It is the same now as in the past, and as it will be in the future."
He said anyone wishing to become chief executive had to "love China and love Hong Kong".
"The design of Hong Kong's universal suffrage must be commensurate with the city's legal status - a regional administrative region under the provision of the national constitution and the Basic Law," he said.
On Friday, the PLA Hong Kong garrison held its second live-fire military drill in eight days. Missile frigates and helicopters were mobilised to Victoria Harbour and the waters off Lamma Island to conduct joint patrols, simulated arrests and rescue exercises. State broadcaster China Central Television aired footage of both drills.
Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a University of Hong Kong law professor is spearheading a campaign, Occupy Central, to push for full democracy. It plans to block traffic in Central next year.
He said Beijing's responses - such as a strongly worded editorial in the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, opposing the campaign's plan - showed its anxiety.
"I hope the central government will not misjudge [events]. I hope it can understand that we do not intend to confront or challenge [its authority]," Tai said.
"All we want is genuine universal suffrage. But I do feel scared because we are facing a super Goliath."