Leung Chun-ying wins praise and pledge of support from Li Keqiang
Li Keqiang notes city's growth and low jobless rate during meeting with the chief executive
Jeffie Lam in Beijing and Tanna Chong
The government of Leung Chun-ying won words of encouragement from state leaders yesterday as the chief executive began his duty visit to Beijing.
Leung started his three-day visit by briefing National People's Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang on the progress of a five-month consultation on political reform launched earlier this month, before meeting Premier Li Keqiang.
"Zhang reiterated that the central government was 'genuine and sincere' about the reform … and hoped the SAR government would accomplish the … constitutional reform to implement one-man, one-vote in the 2017 chief executive election," Leung said.
Li also reiterated his support for Leung's administration and praised its progress - in contrast to his predecessor Wen Jiabao , who emphasised during the chief executive's previous duty visit that Leung's team had much work to do.
"The central government will support the SAR government and chief executive to strictly adhere to the law," Li told Leung in his office at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound.
While Wen set out six problems areas for Leung to address, including housing, poverty and the city's ageing population, Li noted the steady economic growth and low unemployment rate Hong Kong had achieved.
But he warned Leung to stay alert to global financial instability, which might bring uncertainty in the year ahead.
Leung said he told Li that the city's various livelihood problems had eased and he pledged to foster consensus on constitutional reform.
"The Beijing leaders affirmed the work by the SAR government in the past year," Leung added.
The chief executive will meet President Xi Jinping today, and also spend time with Hongkongers who live and work in the capital.
There was a surprise earlier in the day when it was announced that the heads of three policy bureaus would accompany Leung to his meetings with relevant Beijing ministries.
But the government said their visit had been pre-arranged. They are not expected to meet Xi, according to sources.
They are the financial services chief, Professor Chan Ka-keung, transport and housing minister Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, and Greg So Kam-leung, secretary for commerce and economic development.
Meanwhile, the latest poll by the University of Hong Kong found that confidence in the city's future is at its lowest since June 2003. Of the 1,015 polled, 50 per cent said they had confidence while 43 per cent had no confidence, giving a net confidence rate of 7 per cent, down from 14 per cent in the last quarterly tracking poll in September. The margin of error was four per cent.