President Xi Jinping, in his first open speech as head of state, appealed to Hongkongers to uphold the interests of the nation and the city.
"Compatriots in the Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions should put emphasis on the country, Hong Kong and Macau's overall interest," Xi told delegates at the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing yesterday.
"[This is] so as to safeguard and foster the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau," he said.
Last March, about two weeks before Hong Kong's chief executive election, then vice-president Xi had also told delegates to the legislature that the city should put the country's overall interest above their personal concerns.
Xi's speech yesterday came shortly before new Premier Li Keqiang urged Hong Kong to make good and full use of the central government's policy initiatives that benefit the city.
Local NPC deputies and a political analyst said Li's comment referred to some of the 36 economic, financial, tourism, social and Guangdong-Hong Kong co-operation measures announced during his 2011 visit to the city, as well as to the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) initiatives that had not been fully utilised.
Asked if he had plans to introduce any other measures to help Hong Kong after his "gifts" two years ago, Li said: "One has to take the goods in the gift box out one by one, in order to make good and full use of them."
"The two sides [the mainland and Hong Kong] have to work together," the new premier said, adding that Beijing would do its best to advance the initiatives that were good for Hongkongers and would keep the city prosperous over the long term.
Hailing the Hong Kong community as open, inclusive and vibrant, Li said there was room for deeper bilateral co-operation.
Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said it was evident that some of the Cepa and preferential measures in place were not being fully utilised.
Li's remarks did not rule out the possibility of more preferential socio-economic initiatives being rolled out when necessary, he said.
Xi's speech, meanwhile, was to remind Hongkongers to uphold the nation's interests, Lau said.