Veteran Beijing loyalist Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai yesterday joined the ranks of those dismissing rumours that Beijing was considering sacking Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, saying the chance of that was "minimal".
Her comments came after two mainland officials responsible for Hong Kong affairs openly rejected the suggestion last week.
However, a political analyst believes Beijing is simply trying to get everyone on the same page during the sensitive time surrounding the 18th party congress.
Fan, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said over the past four months Leung had been trying to roll out policies and, despite all the challenges he had met, there was "no reason" for such a rumour to spread.
"Replacing the chief executive is a very serious matter and that would definitely not be a rash happening," she said. "The chance [of Beijing replacing the chief executive] is minimal."
Both Li Gang , deputy director of the central government's liaison office, and Wang Guangya , director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, dismissed the rumour last week, saying it was "ridiculous" and "groundless" respectively.
Fan, once rumoured to be a candidate in the race for the city's top job last year, has been critical of Leung's administration in the past few months. Last month, when Leung partly blamed problems from the previous administration for his flagging popularity, Fan hit back and said the remark might give the public the impression he was trying to shirk responsibility.
Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, said the idea Beijing was trying to maintain unity during the party congress meeting could not be ruled out - at least within the pro-establishment camp.
"Beijing might want to alleviate the pressure on Leung and his administration," he said. "But, as we all know, what is being said and what is being done might not necessarily be the same."