Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has invited about 20 people including moderate pan-democrats to dinner next month in an effort to break the deadlock over political reform.
The August 1 event, which will include academics and pro-Beijing figures, will mark the first time Leung has met democrats to discuss reforms and comes amid an intensifying debate on how to achieve universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.
The invitation came to light a day after the unprecedented lunch between Beijing liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming and lawmakers at which Zhang turned the debate up a notch with his hint of a screening process for the 2017 candidates.
Guests at Leung's dinner will include former Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong, one of the three party representatives who held talks with top liaison office officials on political reform in 2010.
Lee Wing-tat, another former lawmaker of the party and now research director of moderate democratic group Hong Kong 2020, was also invited.
Chinese University associate professor Ma Ngok and senior lecturer Ivan Choy Chi-keung - both vocal critics of the government - have declined, saying they will be out of town. Brian Fong Chi-hang, vice-chairman of think tank SynergyNet, will attend.
Lau Siu-kai, former head of the Central Policy Unit, and Lau Nai-keung, a member of the Basic Law Committee, are among Beijing-friendly figures invited.
"Zhang's luncheon with lawmakers raised the curtain on the preliminary stage of the consultation on political reform. C. Y. Leung's administration has to do something to show it is doing something," Cheung said.
"It was natural for a senior mainland official like Zhang to reiterate the central government's position on political reform but there is still room for dialogue."
He said he would state his party's call for universal suffrage without screening.
Meanwhile, the Alliance for True Democracy yesterday called for a reduction in the number of functional constituency seats in the legislature in 2016 and their elimination in 2020.
"We fight for the abolition of all functional constituency seats in 2016, and are adamant that such full-scale abolition must be implemented by 2020 at the latest," alliance convenor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek said.
The camp's radical faction, including the League of Social Democrats and People Power, said they were disappointed the alliance was not pressing for abolition in 2016 but would not quit for the time being.