Patten offers China new talks over Hong Kong

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(First Edition)

Hong Kong (Reuter) - Britain is seeking new talks with China to break a deadlock over plans by the Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, for democratic reforms in the colony. The Chief Secretary, Sir David Ford, who is number two in the Hong Kong government, said the two sides had to push ahead despite a row which re-ignited on Wednesday over whether Britain had secretly agreed with China to limit democratic reform in Hong Kong.

Mr Ford told local RTHK radio that Tony Galsworthy, the team leader in the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group, would contact his Chinese counterpart, Guo Fengmin, to try to resume talks. China rejected Mr Patten's proposals, which would let Hong Kong people elect the majority of their legislature, when he made his first visit as governor to Peking earlier this month. Mr Ford said: 'The time has come when we must move things forward. As Mr Patten has said, we stand ready to consider any proposals which are fair and open and would have the support of the people here in Hong Kong.'