Prince Charles's comment was allegedly made in a written journal recording his impressions of the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and distributed among a handful of friends. The publication of extracts in The Mail on Sunday will cause dismay among ministers and the Royal Family. The Queen and Tony Blair last week hosted an official visit by the Chinese president, Hu Jintao.
Clarence House did not dispute the authenticity of the extracts from the 3,000-word journal, entitled The Handover of Hong Kong - or, the Great Chinese Takeaway. A spokesman for the Prince, however, denied that the heir to the throne had boycotted last week's state banquet in honour of the visiting Chinese premier.
In the journal the Prince records a ceremony he attended with the then leader, Jiang Zemin: "After my speech the President detached himself from the group of appalling old waxworks who accompanied him ... He then gave the kind of 'propaganda' speech which was loudly cheered by the bussed-in party faithful." Another extract records his view that the Chinese army is "heavily involved in pretty corrupt business practices".