Hurd rejects China's HK threats: Envoy chided for intimidating British contractors
Commenting on contracts worth dollars 700bn ( pounds 470bn) for which British firms will compete over the next five to seven years, Mr Ma said in a newspaper interview: 'It is not good public relations to pursue confrontation over Hong Kong, which is so important to the Chinese people.' The reform plans of the Governor, Chris Patten, had caused 'great anger' among Chinese officials and businessmen, and the impact on British firms was 'hardly avoidable' as they competed with French, German and American firms for business.
Mr Hurd told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: 'I think British businessmen would be well advised not to take his analysis at face value. That kind of discrimination for political reasons is something which the European Union would have to take and would take very seriously.' The issue had been discussed briefly by EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, he added.
The Foreign Secretary denied suggestions that the appointment of Mr Patten as Governor of Hong Kong in 1992 had marked a change in British policy towards the colony, leading to confrontation with the Chinese.
He deplored the way the dispute over Mr Patten's proposals had been 'personalised' by Peking, which has called the Governor a whore, a liar, an idiot and even a tango dancer.
Although 17 rounds of talks with China had failed to reach agreement on the Governor's plans for greater democracy in Hong Kong, Britain remained willing to return to the negotiating table at any time, said Mr Hurd.
It was in China's interests to inherit a flourishing Hong Kong, but, Mr Hurd added: 'I am strongly against doing a deal in circumstances which appear shabby and inadequate. I don't think that would be doing a proper job by our last big colony.'
Asked if Mr Patten might be replaced if his presence was thought detrimental to Hong Kong's future, Mr Hurd said: 'Changing the people doesn't solve the political dilemma. I can't imagine any worse prelude to discussions with the Chinese than changing the Governor.'
The committee was sent a letter yesterday by Sir Percy Cradock, a former senior diplomat who is a bitter critic of Mr Patten, attacking the Governor for misrepresenting his views and revealing the content of confidential discussions when he appeared before the committee last month.
Mr Hurd said Sir Percy, one of the architects of Britain's Hong Kong policy and a former foreign policy adviser to two prime ministers, was out of touch.
In recent years Hong Kong had become a political as well as a commercial city, and Britain had to deal with both sides: 'I don't think Sir Percy is up to speed on that.'
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Mick Jagger denies being World Cup curse and reason for Brazil’s embarrassing defeat
Israel-Gaza crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
£35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Cameron Kennedy Recruitment: This rapidl...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited:...
£47000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Key skil...