China threatens boycott of Hong Kong meetings

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The Independent Online
HONG KONG (Agencies) - China threatened yesterday to boycott future meetings of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group (JLG) unless the Governor, Chris Patten, withdraws his political reform package.

After three days of deadlock, the Chinese and British sides failed to issue a joint communique for the first time in 25 JLG meetings. China's chief negotiatior, Guo Fengmin, said the two sides had discussed whether to stick to the Sino-British 1984 Joint Declaration. Asked what would happen if Hong Kong's legislature approved Mr Patten's proposals, he said: 'If the agreements arrived at by the Chinese and the British sides can be scrapped, then what's the point for us to continue to discuss and reach agreements within the JLG?'

Although the outcome caused a 65-point fall on the colony's nervous stock market, there was some relief that the meeting had taken place at all. 'The talks haven't made any concrete progress, but they haven't made things any worse. It is better to be talking than not talking,' said the leader of the British side, Tony Galsworthy.