China raises pressure on 'creators of chaos'

AMID stately villas and frozen lakes, China yesterday tuned up the verbal intimidation in its onslaught on the Hong Kong Governor, Chris Patten, for pressing ahead with democratic reform in the colony.

China's Foreign Minister, Qian Qichen, said that 'if there can no longer be co-operation, we cannot sit idly by while there is chaos in Hong Kong'. He was addressing the closing session of the Preparatory Working Committee (PWC) of mainland officials and appointed Hong Kong individuals tasked by Peking with preparing for the transfer of sovereignty in 1997. The PWC could replace any legislature unilaterally put in place by the British with one sanctioned by the Chinese.

The three-day meeting concluded in the comfortable surroundings of the Diaoyutiai Guest House complex in west Peking. The venue had been changed because the Prime Minister, Li Peng, had decided to address the session.

China is keen to boost the standing of the PWC, which is expected to emerge as a 'shadow' government that can be used to undermine Hong Kong's government in the last years of colonial rule.

The PWC, in a statement, said that Britain had 'deliberately sabotaged' Sino-British negotiations by publishing a bill on Friday that would put in place some basic proposals for the next local and parliamentary elections in Hong Kong, including fixing the voting age at 18 and opting for a one-vote, single-seat constituency electoral system.

The PWC said these measures, which have cross-party support in the colony, would 'artificially create chaos'. On Wednesday the Hong Kong government is due formally to table the bill in the colony's parliament, the Legislative Council (Legco), a move that Peking has said will mark the end of negotiations. Mr Qian's speech seemed designed to create maximum concern in Hong Kong while still trying to present China as the reasonable party in the dispute. China's tactics appear to be to try to emasculate the British administration in the run-up to 1997 without threatening the economy of the colony and thereby alienating Hong Kong public opinion. Even yesterday, the rhetoric avoided specific threats. On Friday the local Hong Kong Hang Seng stock market index breached the 10,000 mark for the first time, despite Sino-British relations being at a low-point.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent