State leader Wu Bangguo yesterday hailed Hong Kong's unique advantages for fostering the telecoms industry when he officiated at the launch of the world's biggest telecommunications trade show in the city. Mr Wu, chairman of the National People's Congress, cited Hong Kong's local telecoms companies, the free and open economy and the city's proximity to the mainland, which he said 'provides a huge market and endless driving force for Hong Kong's growth'. Speaking at the opening ceremony for the ITU Telecom World 2006, he also highlighted the nation's telecoms potential. 'The scale of China's ICT [information, computer and telecommunications] industry is already quite impressive. But China's ICT market remains the one with the biggest potential in the world,' Mr Wu said. His comments came just days after Richard Li Tzar-kai's bid to offload his stake in the city's dominant fixed-line phone operator, PCCW, was thwarted by minority shareholders. The plan was blocked amid alleged interference from Beijing and a central government unhappy about seeing control of PCCW in foreign hands. The state leader met tycoon Li Ka-shing and his elder son, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, over breakfast yesterday but Richard, Mr Li's younger son, was absent. The NPC chief also reiterated that maintaining Hong Kong's prosperity and stability was a new agenda for the Communist Party. He referred to a September 2004 report released after the Communist Party Central Committee's fourth plenum which said maintaining long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macau was a 'brand new subject of the party's governance under new circumstances'. The report also took the unprecedented step of highlighting the need 'to improve the city's governance capability'. Mr Wu, who ends his three-day visit to Hong Kong today, made the remarks behind closed doors to representatives of the central government's agencies and mainland-funded enterprises in Hong Kong before officiating at the ITU launch. 'What has happened over the past nine years shows that the policy of 'one country, two systems' works and is full of vitality and that the Hong Kong people are fully capable of administering Hong Kong well,' Mr Wu said. Mr Wu, the nation's No 2 leader, urged mainland officials and business executives working in Hong Kong to review and upgrade their work in preparation for the 17th Communist Party Congress and next year's 10th anniversary of the handover, Xinhua reported. The government expects ITU Telecom World to generate HK$900 million in direct economic benefit for Hong Kong. The event, which is being held outside Geneva for the first time, features 650 exhibitors from 40 countries and is expected to attract between 42,000 and 57,000 visitors.