The new director of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong has started the job pledging to "prudently implement" the central government's policies in Hong Kong while giving "unswerving support" to the Hong Kong government in line with the Basic Law.
Zhang Xiaoming, who earlier caused a stir by alleging "external forces" were meddling in Hong Kong politics, said he would safeguard the city's long-term prosperity and stability.
Speaking to liaison office staff on Tuesday, the 49-year-old former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office also thanked Beijing for its confidence in giving him the job, which he said would help him to understand the city.
A source familiar with Leung Chun-ying's duty visit to Beijing, which starts today, said the chief executive was scheduled to meet Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping this afternoon. Xi is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as president in March. Leung will be received by Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao tomorrow.
Zhang also commended former chief Peng Qinghua , who has been appointed the new Guangxi party committee secretary, and deputy Li Gang , who is set to take over the Macau liaison office, for their work.
Li will appear in the ceremony today marking the 13th anniversary of Macau's handover.
Zhang, who has worked at the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office for 26 years, is also a member of the Basic Law Committee of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.
Peng said he believed his successor could consolidate the work of the Hong Kong office and drive innovation, while an emotional Li said Hong Kong had become his "second home".
In a statement yesterday, Leung said Peng had actively co-operated with the Hong Kong government and supported its work in accordance with the Basic Law.
He believed Zhang could further promote exchanges and communication between the mainland and Hong Kong.
Exco member Cheng Yiu-tong said it was too early to say whether Zhang was a "hawk or a dove [...] But he has extensive knowledge of the important issues in Hong Kong in the past years".