Howe says Hong Kong row will blow over

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The Independent Online
PEKING (Reuter) - Lord Howe, who as foreign secretary negotiated Britain's 1984 agreement handing Hong Kong back to China in 1997, said yesterday he thought Peking and London would eventually work out their current row over greater democracy in the colony.

Lord Howe, visiting Peking as part of a British human rights delegation, said China sooner or later would realise it had to negotiate. He dismissed recent Chinese attacks on plans by Chris Patten, the Hong Kong Governor, for democratic reform as 'oversimplified denunciations and rejections'. 'I don't think that will be the long-run position,' he said. 'These situations do not endure indefinitely without some forward movement.'

Greater democratisation was part of the original agreement on the 1997 handover. 'Britain's interests in the matter are concerned solely with the future well-being of Hong Kong,' Lord Howe said.