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HK airport disputr worsens

PEKING (Reuter) - China yesterday intensified a bitter dispute with Britain over the dollars 21bn ( pounds 11bn) scheme for a new Hong Kong airport. The project could become a 'tiger's mouth' swallowing the wealth of the colony's people, in the words of Chen Zuoer, a senior official with the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

The two sides cannot agree on ways to finance part of the project. Talks aimed at breaking the deadlock, which threatens to delay the opening of the airport beyond the handover of the colony to Peking in 1997, broke down last week. Sir David Ford, Hong Kong's Chief Secretary, angered Peking by disclosing details of the differences between the two sides, saying he rejected China's call for some projects to go ahead before any firm agreement on the overall package. Senior Chinese officials have accused Britain of bullying and playing tricks.