Zeng Qinghong lauds HK's 'most influential ' political group The pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong was lauded by the mainland's top leadership yesterday who described it as the city's 'largest and most influential'' political group. The strong backing came from Vice-President Zeng Qinghong, a strong ally of former president Jiang Zemin and head of a leading group of the Communist Party on Hong Kong affairs. He heaped praise on the DAB when he received a delegation led by party chairman Tsang Yok-shing in Beijing. 'I have many friends in Hong Kong. But this is my first time to receive a delegation from Hong Kong here at the Great Hall of People,' Mr Zeng told the delegation during a five-minute photo session. 'I know that DAB is the largest and the most influential political group in Hong Kong,' he said. '[DAB] supported the smooth transition [of Hong Kong's reunification] with the mainland before the handover and it has done a great deal of work to ensure Hong Kong's prosperity and stability since the handover.' Mr Zeng was the most senior state leader to meet pro-Beijing delegations since the mass protest in Hong Kong on July 1. Political commentators have said that the DAB fears its stance on the National Security Bill will undermine its chance to win more seats in next year's legislative election. As a result, it wanted to use the meeting with state leaders to bolster its political position. But Mr Tsang played down the reception the delegation received. 'Before the handover, the DAB visited Beijing every year. This is our first visit to Beijing after the handover. What the vice-president said is not new to us. During visits prior to the handover, state leaders made similar comments about the DAB,' Mr Tsang said after meeting the vice-president. DAB vice-chairman Ip Kwok-him said: 'I don't think a few compliments from state leaders will create a favorable environment for us in the election. What is important is how we work for the Hong Kong people.' On Friday, Mr Tsang also denied that the withdrawal of the national security legislation by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa was meant to help the political party and give it a boost in next year's legislative election. During yesterday's meeting, Vice-President Zeng repeated that the Hong Kong public should rally behind Mr Tung, and the central government respected the decision to withdraw the bill. The withdrawal of the security bill was only briefly reported in the mainland press yesterday. All newspapers ran a report by the official Xinhua which said the draft legislation was withdrawn to allow more public consultation. There was no reference to the July 1 demonstration in the report. According to Mr Tsang, the DAB suggested to Mr Zeng that Hong Kong and Shanghai should consider establishing a joint conference - similar to one between the SAR and Guangdong - to strengthen co-operation. They said the suggestion was received 'favourably'.