A decision to downgrade Hong Kong's representative in Beijing will not undermine relations with the central government, the head of the office said. Thomas Tso Man-tai defended his new position as he took up the post of director of the office yesterday. The government has decided to set up two new offices on the mainland, one in Shanghai and one in Chengdu , following a revamp. As a result, the Beijing bureau chief has been downgraded from directorate grade 8 - equivalent to a permanent secretary - to grade 6, the same as most department heads in the government hierarchy. Mr Tso said he believed the Beijing office would continue to play an important role liaising between the mainland authorities and Hong Kong. 'The establishment of the Beijing office is provided under the Basic Law ... I believe a slight adjustment in rank will not affect the office's functions and roles from the central government's perspective,' he said. He said he was fully committed to his new posting and would strive to enhance communication with the mainland authorities and attract more business investment for Hong Kong over the next three years. The post had been vacant for six months after former director Bowen Leung Po-wing retired late last year. Mr Tso denied the job, which was once among the most sought-after postings for aspiring administrative officers, had lost its appeal. 'I have always wanted to feel for myself how life is on the mainland,' he said. 'I will fully devote myself over the next three years. As to my Putonghua, I think it's hai keyi - still okay.' Mr Tso was previously in charge of preparation for the Olympic Games equestrian events to be held in Hong Kong in 2008. He believed part of his new portfolio would still be related to the Games.