Two top Beijing officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs have been elected to positions on the Communist Party's Central Committee - one as a full member, and the other as an alternate - while a third official was re-elected to the committee.
Some Hong Kong delegates to the National People's Congress said this showed Beijing held affairs with the special administrative region in high regard.
Wang Guangya, 62, director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, was elected one of the Central Committee's 205 members yesterday at the end of the week-long 18th party congress. Wang had previously been an alternate member with no voting rights.
His aide, Zhang Xiaoming, 49, a deputy director of the office, was elected for the first time as an alternate.
Peng Qinghua , 55, head of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, was re-elected a full committee member.
Meanwhile, Li Gang, 57, deputy director of the liaison office, was re-elected as a member of the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
One of Hong Kong's deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC), Wong Kwok-kin, said: "I agree that it means the central government is paying heed to Hong Kong affairs. That explains why officials with the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office were elected."
He said it was no surprise that Wang was selected as a Central Committee member, given that his predecessor, Liao Hui , also sat on the committee.
"When Wang Guangya took office [in 2010], the congress had yet to convene, so he couldn't be promoted at that time," Wong said. "His securing of the spot now means the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director will sit on the Central Committee."
Wong praised Zhang as being smart and "very familiar with Hong Kong affairs".
Another Hong Kong NPC delegate, Martin Liao Cheung-kong, said: "If Wang Guangya continues at the helm of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, his promotion will certainly increase the central government's regard for Hong Kong."
Liao said it was unclear whether Wang would retain his post or be moved to another. However, Ip Kwok-him, also a Hong Kong delegate to the NPC, said the move did not appear symbolic. "The suggestion that [it] can show that Beijing pays higher regard to Hong Kong is not very convincing," Ip said.