A state leader yesterday denounced Hong Kong activists who waved colonial flags during recent protests and warned that "opposition" and "centrifugal forces" would not be allowed to rule the city after universal suffrage was introduced.
Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee - and tipped to be the next chairman of the nation's top advisory body - is the first high-level mainland official to address controversies involving Hong Kong.
In a closed meeting with Hong Kong delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Yu also referred to the parallel trade in infant milk formula and mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong.
One delegate quoted Yu as saying that Hong Kong could not become a base and bridgehead for subverting the mainland.
"When he spoke about the election of the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017, Yu said 'opposition' and 'centrifugal forces' could not be allowed to rule Hong Kong after universal suffrage was attained," the delegate said. "It is not good for Hong Kong and the country," Yu was quoted as saying.
Again quoting Yu, the delegate said: "The Chinese people will not accept some Hongkongers waving the colonial flag."
However, Yu also told Hong Kong delegates to the CPPCC yesterday that he understood the grievances in Hong Kong towards mainlanders coming to the city to compete for resources.
Delegate Tam Yiu-chung said Yu, who served as Shanghai party secretary from 2007 to 2012, spoke of tensions in that city over people who came from other parts of the country to give birth.
"Some Shanghai residents are unhappy with this phenomenon and municipal authorities have had to increase the number of beds for obstetric services to solve the problem," he said.
Delegate Chan Yuen-han, quoted Yu as saying that some Shanghai residents were unhappy about students from other provinces and cities competing for university places.
Another delegate said Yu mentioned that 40 per cent of patients at Shanghai hospitals came from other parts of the mainland.
"It was because the standard of medical service in Shanghai was more advanced. We resolved this simply by building two extra hospitals," Yu said.
Yu also told the delegates that, under the "one country, two systems" formula, conflict between Hongkongers and mainlanders should be handled by Hong Kong's administration. "He is confident that the Hong Kong government can handle the matter properly," Chan said.
Yu also said the government's resolve in implementing the "one country, two systems" principle and supporting the chief executive would never change.