A second state leader yesterday stressed the importance of Hong Kong safeguarding national security, a day after another warned the city against becoming a base for subversion and said its ruling elite had to love the nation.
Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Dejiang , who will supervise Hong Kong and Macau Affairs and head the nation's top legislature, called on Hong Kong delegates at a closed-door meeting to help deepen the implementation of the "one country, two systems" concept, Xinhua reported.
Zhang also said the Hong Kong public should develop a fuller understanding of the concept - an expression often used by Beijing in showing its concerns that some Hongkongers placed the "two systems" ahead of the "one country" idea.
Zhang, ranked third in the party hierarchy, made the comment just a day after the fourth-ranked fellow Politburo Standing Committee member Yu Zhengsheng warned against Hong Kong becoming a base for subversion on Wednesday. Unlike Yu, Zhang did not mention universal suffrage, the chief executive election or "subversion".
He stressed Hong Kong must safeguard national security as stated in last year's 18th party congress report - which sums up the governing philosophy of the party for the next five years.
"He used it to show that the central government's policy on Hong Kong remains unchanged," said Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, one of the 36 Hong Kong deputies of the National People's Congress at the meeting.
She added: "What I have heard [from Zhang] today were the clearest remarks over the past few years on Hong Kong's achievements and advantages." Another deputy, Michael Tien Puk-sun, said Zhang mentioned that conflicts between Hong Kong and mainland China were "expected". Tien quoted him as saying: "We need to handle it with a cool head and take concrete measures."
Several other deputies also described Zhang's comment as "more positive and less stern" than Yu's. Zhang and Yu are expected to head the nation's top legislature and top political advisory body respectively.
Zhang will take over from party chief Xi Jinping as the head of the party's leading group on Hong Kong and Macau Affairs - effectively the highest decision-making body on the two special administrations.
Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu believed the comments were triggered by recent events, such as some protesters in Hong Kong waving colonial flags and a plan to occupy the roads in Central to demand universal suffrage.
Wang Gaungya , director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council, said "a minority of people used Hong Kong as a bridgehead of subversion".