Hong Kong National People's Congress deputy Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai looks set to retain her spot on the national legislature's standing committee as she made it on to the NPC session's presidium, people close to the procedures said.
Several top contenders for the next administration's state councilor seats that have portfolios including security, defence and diplomacy are among the 178-member NPC session presidium.
Fan, who came 29th in the election for the 36-member Hong Kong delegation in December, said yesterday that she would continue to speak her mind despite being the target of criticism for her outspokenness in the past.
Fan favoured Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen, in the city's leadership race last year, and she repeatedly criticised Leung.
Asked if her high chance of keeping her Standing Committee seat implied that Leung's supporters had failed in their bid to drag her down, Fan said that "does not matter to me. They have their freedom. They have the right to vote and choose. [I] have to respect their rights and can't criticise them. I have long accepted that".
In the future, she said, "I will say what I believe. I don't know how to lie".
Other Hong Kong-linked members in the presidium included Maria Tam Wai-chu, the chief of the city's delegation, and Zhang Xiaoming , the director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong.
Fan said Zhang had told the Hong Kong deputies and delegates to the NPC and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference that they should comment on Hong Kong affairs only in a personal capacity, not as members to the state's legislature or the advisory body.
China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said: "Fan's making her way onto the presidium suggests that she could remain on the Standing Committee. Beijing is most concerned about stability. It already sees the pro-establishment camp as unstable since Leung took office. Beijing worries that if it is not arranged for Fan to serve another term, it might set off more speculation."
Sources said state leaders would meet NPC delegates, on Thursday or Friday, and it was expected that Zhang Dejiang and Li Yuanchao , who were tipped to be in charge of the Communist Party's top steering group in Hong Kong affairs, would show up.
Some strong contenders for the five state councillor seats are also in the presidium. They include Yang Jing , a secretary of the central Secretariat; Guo Shengkun , public security minister; Chang Wanquan , the defence minister in waiting; Yang Jiechi , foreign minister; and Wang Yong , chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
Wang Chen , the minister in charge of the information office under the state council, and Zhang Ping , the minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission, were also among the presidium members and tipped to be the new vice-chairmen of the top legislature.
Aside from that, all 25 members of the party's Politburo and 10 military officers with the party's Central Military Commission were members of the body that are responsible for the proceedings of the session.