Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday urged Hongkongers to stop wrangling over political issues and focus on forging closer economic ties with the Pearl River Delta and other parts of the mainland.
During his two-day visit to Shanghai, Leung brushed aside questions about Hong Kong's annual candlelight vigil on Tuesday to commemorate victims who died in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
"The Hong Kong government won't comment on the June 4th incident," he said.
He stressed that priority should be given to the cross-border trade and investments that could pay off for the city.
"Lots of time and energy have been wasted … due to political arguments," he told a conference on urban land development in Shanghai yesterday. "Hong Kong should seize the opportunities to deepen co-operation with the Pearl River Delta region."
It was the first time Leung had visited Shanghai - seen as Hong Kong's arch-rival in drawing capital and talent - since he became chief executive last year.
Yesterday, he hailed developments in the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa), a free-trade deal between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Beijing has approved widening access for Hong Kong service providers, which Leung described as a "major breakthrough" that could benefit Hong Kong professionals, including doctors, accountants and architects.
Under existing rules, local professionals have access only to Guangdong.
Following Beijing's nod to expand the arrangement, Leung said further liberalisation would mean the pan-Pearl River Delta region - which includes other provinces such as Sichuan and Fujian - would fully open their service sectors to Hong Kong professionals. He didn't disclose a timetable.
"We also hope to better service Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta region," Leung added.
Overseas service providers and professionals, including those from Hong Kong, are not allowed to do business in the vast mainland market unless they pass lengthy approval procedures and certification tests.
Xinhua reported that Leung told Shanghai Communist Party boss Han Zheng on Tuesday that Hong Kong and Shanghai were brother and sister and that the two cities should seek a win-win scenario in future developments.