The mainland’s policies on Hong Kong remain steadfast, Premier Li Keqiang said as he vowed Beijing would “do everything” to help maintain the territory’s economic status.
He pledged the government’s support to the city – a sometimes recalcitrant ally – in maintaining its status as an international financial hub and shipping centre.
“[We will] do everything that benefits Hong Kong's prosperity. That’s what we did in the past, and [that holds true] now,” he said in Beijing on Wednesday, after the concluding ceremony of the National People’s Congress meetings.
“China’s policies to Hong Kong and Macau remain consistent and clear,” Li said.
The premier said Hong Kong played a key role in the country’s “opening up” economic policy, which began in the 1970s.
The premier also cited the city’s ability to weather the global economy’s ups and downs in recent years. “That means Hong Kong has a competitive economy,” Li said.
With the Hong Kong people’s fighting spirit, the city will maintain its edge amid increasing competition in the global market, he said.
Hong Kong, ceded by Britain to China in 1997, works under the “one party, two systems” policy which affords it autonomy in economic, legal and foreign affairs.
In recent months, Hong Kong and Beijing have grappled with the issue of implementing universal suffrage in the territory in three years. Hong Kong has also sought to douse anti-mainlander sentiments from small protest groups.
After months of tense speculation on whether Beijing would weigh in on the issue, the National People's Congress upheld the move towards suffrage as "according to law" and urged a "smooth implementation" of plans for direct elections.
However, Hong Kong lawmakers have been bogged down by bickering over the nomination process for the next chief executive -- whether to let the public or a special committee nominate the candidates.