Local deputies to the National People's Congress yesterday welcomed Li Keqiang as the new premier.
The politicians said Li's visit to the city two years ago, coupled with a series of favourable measures from Beijing, indicated that the central government would maintain a supportive policy towards Hong Kong.
Speaking after the election in Beijing yesterday, NPC standing committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said Li would be a positive force for Hong Kong.
"I think he will continue to … safeguard the 'one country, two systems' principle, and implement the Basic Law," Fan said.
In Li's 2011 visit as vice-premier, he announced policies to support the city's development, including opening up the mainland's medical, law and construction service markets.
But his visit was marred by controversial security arrangements, in which a huge police presence was enlisted to block key entrances to the University of Hong Kong from student protestors. The incident sparked criticism over what was perceived as Li's personal style.
But Fan dismissed the speculation. "If you have a negative impression of Li because of that visit, you have completely misunderstood ... The security measures had nothing personal to do with Li," she said.
Fan said she had known Li since 1998, when he was governor of Henan province. "I remember him as a very young and capable official," she said.
NPC deputy Brave Chan Yung said Li's experience in Henan - a major agricultural centre - meant that he had an understanding of the life of the lower class. The new premier would be as caring towards the people as his predecessor Wen Jiabao , he said.
NPC deputy Herman Hu Shao-ming, chairman of Ryoden Development and the City University council, said Li, whom he had met at a forum in Hong Kong two years ago, was "friendly and capable".
He hoped that the new leadership would foster co-operation between the city and the mainland, he said.