Vice-President Li Yuanchao yesterday urged Hong Kong's youth to strengthen their understanding of the rule of law and support the government's plans for the city's democratic reform.
Li's remarks came just a few hours before hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to express their opposition to Beijing's desire to screen candidates for the chief executive through a nominating committee.
Li, a member of the elite Politburo, met around 2,000 Hong Kong youngsters, from primary school pupils to university students, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday.
"[We] hope young people can raise their understanding of the rule of law, and make themselves the vanguard of preserving Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," Li said.
He called on young people to "support the special administrative region government in pushing forward political reform in accordance with the Basic Law and decisions made by the National People's Congress".
He spoke as students were busy planning an overnight "occupation" of Central following the annual July 1 rally. Two student groups - Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students - were planning to mobilise at least 1,000 students to flood Chater Road from last night until early this morning.
Xinhua issued a commentary calling on Hong Kong society to exercise patience and rely on communication and mutual respect to resolve differences.
It criticised any act that could be construed as disturbing law and order.
"No one should hijack public opinion for one's personal interest," the commentary read.
Meanwhile, the pro-democracy movement Occupy Central with Love and Peace was spawning a host of imitators on social media.
Groups proclaiming themselves "Occupy China with Love and Peace", "Occupy Tiananmen with Love and Peace" and "Occupy Shenzhen with Love and Peace" have all appealed to mainlanders to show their support for Hong Kong people.
In Shenzhen, four Hong Kong journalists were taken away by police and held for several hours while reporting on a rumoured "Occupy Shenzhen" event in support of the rally in Hong Kong. A statement posted online had called on people to occupy Shenzhen's government building, the Citizens' Centre.
Plain-clothes police officers monitored the area throughout the day. At around 4pm, about a dozen surrounded the Hong Kong reporters and confiscated their mobile phones, deleting their memory cards.