Envoys accused of HK betrayal

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The Independent Online
Pressure is growing for a parliamentary inquiry into charges that senior politicians and diplomats colluded with Peking to prevent the development of democratic government in Hong Kong. In the former colony, supporters of the new government are rubbing their hands with glee over the row in London.

Martin Lee, the leader of the Democratic Party, has joined calls for a parliamentary inquiry because he believes it will reveal how Britain misled the people of Hong Kong. The allegations of collusion and betrayal are made in a newly-published book, The Last Governor, by the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, who secured the close co-operation of Chris Patten, the former Governor of Hong Kong, for an account of his five years in office.

Among Mr Dimbleby's most serious charges, evidently made on the basis of information supplied by Mr Patten, are allegations that senior Foreign Office officials colluded with China to rig a 1987 Hong Kong public consultation exercise into representative government. The alleged aim was to show that there was no support for democratic government, allowing ministers to wriggle out of their promise to boost representative government. Mr Patten is said to have discovered this only on his departure from Hong Kong.