A former mainland official responsible for Hong Kong and Macau affairs has dismissed fears that Beijing intends to tighten its control over the city.
Referring to the State Council's white paper on Hong Kong, released last week, Chen Zuoer , a former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said the document only summed up what Beijing had done since the 1997 handover.
"There is nothing to worry about. There is no question of the central government getting back powers from Hong Kong," said Chen, who was in the city yesterday to attend a seminar hosted by the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a think tank of which he is chairman.
While saying Beijing was determined to uphold the "one country, two systems" formula, Chen said "one country" and "two systems" were not equal. "It is only under the framework of 'one country' that the 'two systems' is implemented," he said.
Chen said some Hongkongers had not yet identified with the country.
"There are still some people in Hong Kong who have not fully adapted to the [reunification]," he said. "Especially, they do not have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the 'one country, two systems' policy.
"The territory is reunified. But there is still a long way to see reunification of people's hearts."
Echoing the white paper, Chen also warned of possible interference by "outside forces".
Referring to the movement of hot money in and out of the city in recent years, he said: "There have been more than 20 international financial institutions - including some super hedge funds - coming to settle in Hong Kong. Their objectives and strategies are rarely made known."
In the white paper, Beijing said it had jurisdiction over all local administrative regions, including Hong Kong.
"The high degree of autonomy of [Hong Kong] is not full autonomy nor a decentralised power. It is the power to run local affairs as authorised by the central leadership," the paper said.
Beijing officials have given similar messages in the past. But to make such a formal declaration was unusual.
The document was issued amid rising tension between Beijing and some in Hong Kong over electoral reform.
Chen criticised the organisers of Occupy Central - who have threatened to shut down the financial district if Beijing refuses to give Hong Kong what they consider "true universal suffrage" - as "harming the younger generation". Such action was "unlawful but they still push it and urge young people to take part".
A commentary in People's Daily yesterday said the white paper had stated plainly the message of mutual cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong since the handover. It also said Hong Kong's prosperity and stability was part of the "Chinese dream".
It was its second such front-page commentary on Hong Kong in two days. On Thursday it criticised some Hong Kong people for attempting to turn the city into an independent or quasi-independent political entity by referring to the Basic Law as Hong Kong's mini-constitution.