The new leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are likely to take a more pragmatic look at the ability of Tung Chee-hwa's team to lead Hong Kong out of the economic doldrums, according to politicians and academics. But they maintain Beijing will adhere to the basic policy of 'one country, two systems' and will be unlikely to meddle with SAR affairs overtly. Veteran politician Allen Lee Peng-fei said the new leaders had 'no deep understanding of Hong Kong issues, nor special feelings' and were therefore more likely to have a fresh perspective. Mr Lee, a local deputy of the National People's Congress (NPC), referred to the likely elevation of Vice-President Hu Jintao to the post of party general secretary and president, and to Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao succeeding Premier Zhu Rongji. 'For instance, Mr Wen has no personal relationship with Mr Tung. They will look at Hong Kong issues from a more pragmatic perspective,' he said. Mr Lee said he understood that Beijing was most concerned about whether Hong Kong could solve its budget deficit problem. He said Beijing had privately sought the views of Hong Kong people, including himself, on what could be done. 'They are not so concerned about politics here, nor the Article 23. But failure to solve the deficit would seriously destabilise Hong Kong's currency. 'The leadership in Hong Kong faces a very grim situation now. Nobody knows what Beijing would do if they thought the Hong Kong team had failed to deliver. Some speculate that someone will have to go . . . But who knows?' The NPC deputy said Beijing would 'come up with some ideas' for Hong Kong to tackle the deficit problem if the SAR government was unable to do so. 'President Jiang Zemin and Vice-Premier Qian have been able to stand firmly behind Mr Tung in the past five years . . . the Hong Kong officials have to wake up now,' he said. Questions have been raised over the leadership role of Mr Tung after Mr Jiang steps down. He is widely seen as Mr Tung's strongest supporter. One senior mainland official said fierce criticism of Mr Tung was not surprising but added: 'I don't think any other people can do a better job. Problems such as unemployment are structural and will take a long period of time to be resolved.' Premier Zhu Rongji said this week during a visit to Phnom Penh there would be 'good news' for Hong Kong at the end of the congress. Mr Zhu has in the past spoken highly of the importance of Hong Kong as an international financial hub, but said it should reposition itself in the face of sweeping changes to the Chinese and regional economy. Analysts say the party congress is likely to reaffirm Beijing's commitment to supporting the SAR economy. Seasoned China-watcher Joseph Cheng Yu-shek said leadership changes were unlikely to alter Beijing's reform policy. 'The new leaders will have their plate full already. There are issues including the World Trade Organisation, reform of state enterprises, income disparity and poverty. The policy options are well defined. The challenge is for them to deliver results,' said Dr Cheng, who heads China studies at Hong Kong's City University. 'New leaders would not want to see an economic slowdown. It will be good for Hong Kong if they adopt an expansionary economic policy.' One worrying trend, he said, is that senior Beijing officials are now more inclined to speak on domestic Hong Kong issues, as they are not confident that the SAR government can manage its affairs well. He cited the string of comments made by Mr Qian on Hong Kong issues, ranging from an anti-subversion law to the US dollar peg, during interviews with Hong Kong media this year. But Dr Cheng said Beijing would have no alternative but to continue to support Mr Tung, given that he has another 4.5 years of his term to serve. 'It will be even more destabilising if there's a leadership change in Hong Kong half-way through. It's more likely that Beijing will do its utmost to help Hong Kong,' he said. Another NPC deputy, Ma Lik, maintained the change in the balance of power in the Communist Party leadership would have an impact on Hong Kong. He said leadership changes on the mainland had increasingly become performance-based. 'It will be very realistic. If you cannot do the job, you have to go. It's hard to say whether it is a good thing for Hong Kong,' he said. 'Chinese leaders have said in the past they would fully support Hong Kong. But you need to deliver results. Leaders of some local governments have always complained about the special privileges given by central authorities to Hong Kong. 'Mr Jiang has been able to resist the pressure from the regions in the past. Whether the new leaders will still be able to do so is unclear. But they will have to make a more careful balance between different interests.'