Mr Zhu said yesterday Hong Kong is a 'glittering pearl' which remains competitive in the world despite the economic downturn. 'Hong Kong is a glittering pearl of China. It has played an irreplaceable role in the modernisation of China,' the premier told the accountants' congress. He said the 'one country, two systems' concept had helped Hong Kong to keep its original system and characteristics intact and to continue to serve as an international, financial and transportation centre. Although Hong Kong was facing economic difficulties, it still retained its competitive edge. Its economic strength and international competitiveness had not been diminished, he said. Mr Zhu said Hong Kong had a large pool of distinguished talent and entrepreneurs which had been an important factor contributing to its success. The premier, who believed Hong Kong would remain energetic and continue to prosper, added: 'The central government will fully support the development of Hong Kong and continue to enhance mutual co-operation to complement each other's strengths.' In March, Mr Zhu said no major cities on the mainland would surpass Hong Kong in the short term, adding that the territory's strengths had yet to be exploited fully. More than 10 demonstrators protested outside the Convention and Exhibition Centre, the venue for the congress. They urged the central government to reverse the verdict on the Tiananmen Square massacre and protested against the proposals to introduce the anti-subversion law. A scuffle broke out with police when the protesters were not allowed to go near the venue. They then burned a protest letter instead.