HK talks stalled again on political fine print

PEKING - Sino-British co-operation over Hong Kong is once again in the doldrums. The two sides are so far apart that during a three-day meeting in Peking, no one even identified the British company that China has ruled out as a player in a big container terminal project, writes Teresa Poole. 'The name Jardines was not mentioned,' said Hugh Davies, the British team leader of the Joint Liaison Group (JLG).

The dispute over involvement of the Jardine Matheson group in Hong Kong's CT9 container terminal contract was expected to cast a shadow over the meeting of the JLG, but less sensitive issues also failed to make much progress.

'Frankly I am very discontented that there has been no greater progress made,' the head of the Chinese JLG team said. Mr Davies retorted: 'If ambassador Guo is disappointed, I can only say I am more disappointed.'

Less than three months ago, British officials were optimistic that China had drawn a line between political disagreements and practical aspects of the 1997 handover. It was even thought that a deal on the financing for Hong Kong's new airport was imminent.

The row over CT9 erupted earlier this month when China accused Britain of awarding Jardine Matheson part of the contract in return for political favours. The companies were originally chosen in November 1992; in June this year a director of Jardines abstained on a vote in Hong Kong's parliament, the Legislative Council (Legco), thus allowing the Governor Chris Patten's electoral reform bill to pass into law despite China's attempts to encourage legislators to vote for a rival proposal. Mr Patten firmly denied any link.

Mr Davies said it had 'proved impossible' to make progress on CT9 during this week's meeting. 'The Chinese side are still unable to justify to me their inability to give a political green light on what should be a purely economic matter,' he added. 'The Chinese attitude on CT9 is unequivocably clear,' Mr Guo countered.

The souring of Sino-British relations appears to date back to early August, about a month after Mr Patten's reforms were passed by Legco. Analysts say China reassessed its failed attempt to thwart the Patten bill, and decided to regain the upper hand by blocking all important agreements except those it wanted to go ahead.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: Regional Sales Manager - OTE £100,000

£45000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Sales Manager is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company provides IT support...

Recruitment Genius: IT Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This manager is for a successfu...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific