China's top political advisory body opened its nine-day session yesterday with outgoing chairman Jia Qinglin calling on Hong Kong and Macau delegates to play a greater role in their special administrative regions and the nation's economic, social and political development.
In a keynote speech to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Jia also urged political advisers to "rally closely around the party Central Committee with comrade Xi Jinping as general secretary".
Veteran politician and newly promoted Politburo Standing Committee member Yu Zhengsheng presided at the opening ceremony. He is poised to become the new chairman of the advisory body during the session.
Jia said: "We should maintain close contact with CPPCC national committee members from Hong Kong and Macau, and get them to fully play their positive role in developing the economy, improving people's well-being, advancing democracy and promoting harmony in their special administrative regions and the country's agenda."
Jia summarised the top advisory body's achievements in the past five years but also pinpointed areas that need improvement.
The achievements included the guiding of Hong Kong CPPCC members to "play exemplary roles in implementing the principle of 'one country, two systems', increased contacts and exchanges with political organisations, social groups and influential figures in Hong Kong", and "supporting Hong Kong delegates to inform young people of China's national conditions".
Liberal Party chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said the fact that Jia's report included more details about Hong Kong affairs showed the leadership had paid more attention to the development of the city.
Jia acknowledged what he called inadequacies under his stewardship, including institutional and functional flaws, and a lack of efficiency in the body. He vowed to strengthen the body's supervision of the government.
The annual session of the National People's Congress - the nation's top legislature - opens tomorrow. It will rubber stamp a new state and government leadership line-up and complete a once-in-a-decade power transition that began in November.