Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa was yesterday appointed as a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, paving the way for his appointment as a vice-chairman of the nation's top advisory body. A list of 80 new delegates nationwide was endorsed yesterday by the CPPCC Standing Committee. Mr Tung and nine others from Hong Kong were on the list. His appointment is seen as the first step towards elevating him to the post of vice-chairman. Mr Tung said last night he was pleased to accept his appointment as a CPPCC delegate. But he would not comment on expectations he is in line for the higher post. Mr Tung will depart for Beijing tomorrow to attend the CPPCC annual session, which starts on Thursday. The chief executive is expected to be elected vice-chairman during the session. He will also attend the opening ceremony of the annual session of the National People's Congress on Saturday. Chan Wing-kee, a Hong Kong member of the CPPCC Standing Committee, said the title of CPPCC delegate or a more senior post would boost Mr Tung's governance. 'Being a CPPCC member, or even holding a more senior position, will significantly strengthen his authority. It will elevate the status of Hong Kong both for the city itself and in its communication with the mainland,' he said after the standing committee's meeting. Mr Chan declined to confirm whether Mr Tung was to be appointed CPPCC vice-chairman, but said: 'Mr Tung has made a lot of contributions to Hong Kong during the past seven years and he deserves the appointment.' Reports of the appointment have fuelled speculation Mr Tung would step back from the day-to-day administration of Hong Kong. Ma Lik, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, said Mr Tung's appointment as vice-chairman would underscore the central government's trust in Hong Kong. 'The appointment will give the chief executive a formal channel to learn the central government's latest policies,' Mr Ma said. 'It is conducive to Hong Kong's policymaking and long-term planning.' Hong Kong CPPCC delegate Lau Nai-keung rejected the notion that Mr Tung would be sidelined. 'The forthcoming appointment will elevate the status of Mr Tung and his successors,' he said.