Fatchett censored Hong Kong report

DEREK FATCHETT, the minister responsible for Hong Kong, said yesterday that he had censored a report to parliament on the former British colony, prepared by his own civil servants.

Earlier reports, prepared at six-month intervals, detailed progress on each area of the Sino-British agreement after the handover of Hong Kong in July 1997. Mr Fatchett, keen to avoid what he called "second guessing" politicians in Hong Kong, toned down the contents of the latest report to "make it less of a language which says we are watching you". Therefore the most recent report submitted to parliament at the beginning of the year is shorter, less detailed and, according to Mr Fatchett, "more readable by politicians and the people of Hong Kong".

Asked whether he had intervened because Britain's main concern these days was China rather than Hong Kong, he said: "I totally refute that suggestion. We welcome evidence that China remains committed to giving Hong Kong the high degree of autonomy prom-ised in the Joint Declaration."

It had been thought the Government would cease issuing the Hong Kong reports to Parliament. However, they will still be given but not necessarily as frequently, he added.