Deadlock for Patten in China

AUTUMNAL gloom descended on Peking yesterday, with fog turning the world grey and bringing a chill to the air. It must have matched Chris Patten's mood after his first fruitless session of talks with Chinese officials on the future of Hong Kong.

Possibly showing displeasure with the Hong Kong governor, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that he would not meet the Prime Minister, Li Peng, as his predecessors usually have, and as Mr Patten had requested. Instead he is to meet the Foreign Minister, Qian Qichen, today.

As they posed for photographs among the guesthouses and withering leaves of the Diaoyutai government compound, Mr Patten told Lu Ping, director of China's Hong Kong and Macao Office, that although there would be problems, 'I'm sure we will be able to overcome those in the interests of Hong Kong.' Mr Lu replied: 'Though there have been twists and turns, generally co-operation between Britain and China over Hong Kong is good.'

By evening, under the glare of television lights outside the British ambassador's residence, Mr Patten said there had been no meeting of minds. He had put his proposals for greater democracy in Hong Kong, outlined this month in his maiden policy speech to the colony's Legislative Council, and Mr Lu had insisted that China's Basic Law, which will govern the running of Hong Kong after 1997, should make everything clear. The talks lasted more than six hours, twice as long as scheduled.

Mr Patten said the discussions, 'however vigorous', had been conducted in a civilised manner. China's controlled press, however, intensified its campaign of abuse. The overseas edition of People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, reported that the Governor had been accused in Hong Kong of 'gambling with the trust and interests of Hong Kong people' and 'nurturing anti-Chinese feeling'. If the dispute continued, it would 'have a great impact on Hong Kong's stability'. One of Peking's mouthpieces in the colony, Wen Wei Po, published a supplement of previous anti-Patten editorials, including one which accused him of becoming a dictator.

China's strategy has been to snipe at Mr Patten's proposals without making any of its own, apart from threatening that any changes he makes might be reversed after 1997. This led to a stalemate last week in talks on Hong Kong's new airport project.

Leading article, page 26

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions