The head of the national legislature has told a Hong Kong business delegation that Beijing's policies towards Hong Kong will remain "unswerving" as it gradually advances the city's democratic development in accordance with the Basic Law. This is the first time a state leader has spoken officially about Hong Kong's political future since the Legislative Council last month voted down the government's reform package for the 2017 chief executive election. "I am confident with the development of Hong Kong as it is backed by the great motherland and has its own advantages," Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said yesterday at a meeting with the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce delegation from Hong Kong. The central government's policies towards the city were clear and unswerving, said Zhang, who is also head of the Communist Party's leading group on Hong Kong and Macau affairs. Also at the meeting was Sun Chunlan, head of the United Front Work Department; Wang Guangya, director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office; and Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong. The central government consistently supported "the principle of Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy," Zhang Dejiang said. He added that it would help "Hong Kong to gradually push forward the democratic development according to law". Beijing has also pledged to maintain Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability as well as the security of the country's sovereignty and interests. Hong Kong's Civic Party leader, Alan Leong Kah-kit, said that despite Zhang's comments, the city's democratic development was regressing. "The central government has turned a blind eye to the views of moderate pan-democrats all these years," Leong said. "It should reflect on whether it wants to push Hong Kong to the path of violence." Lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said Zhang's remarks showed that Beijing would not change its policy towards the city just because the reform exercise had failed. The DAB lawmakers and its 30-member executive committee will meet Zhang in Beijing on Friday.