BEIJING (Reuters) - The young of Hong Kong should be promoters of the territory's stability and prosperity, the fourth most senior leader of China's ruling Communist Party told a youth group on Friday.
Beijing sees national unity as sacrosanct and has ruled Hong Kong under a "one country, two systems" formula, allowing broad autonomy, since the city returned from British rule in 1997.
But Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, spearheaded by fresh-faced youngsters, has shaken the assumption of cozy accommodation between the mainland's communists and the capitalist enclave.
Meeting a youth group from Hong Kong and Macau in Beijing, Yu Zhengsheng said their invitation showed China's desire to increase exchanges with Hong Kong, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
"(I) hope that all of you, via this visit, can further learn about history and understand the national situation," the news agency cited Yu as saying.
"The youth of Hong Kong and Macau are the new force which have inherited to transmission of 'one country, two systems', and you must be ambitious," said Yu, who heads a largely ceremonial advisory body to parliament.
"Be promoters of the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau."
Protesters in Hong Kong have demanded full democracy in a 2017 election for the city's leader. But Beijing insists the leader will be chosen from a list of candidates it approves.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel