Sino-British thaw over Hong Kong
EU-Asia summit: China 'recognises need to build confidence' in colony a s trade dominates agenda at expense of human rights
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Friday 01 March 1996
Mr Major went into his 45-minute meeting with the Chinese Premier only hours after Peking's top official in the colony had warned the British Government against "stirring up trouble". Zhou Nan, head of the New China News Agency and Peking's de facto ambassador there, said: "We sincerely hope the British can carry out their obligations and fully co-operate ... and stir up no further trouble for Hong Kong's smooth transition."
But Mr Major made it clear after the meeting with Li Peng that he detected a marked improvement in relations between Britain and China over the past few months.
Mr Major did not disguise that there is still no convergence between the two governments over the key issues for Hong Kong democrats of a Bill of Rights and the future of the now democratically elected legislative committee for Hong Kong (Legco). Mr Major said he had told the Premier "that Hong Kong's success has been founded not only on economic success but on the rule of law and that continuity and stability are a very important part of a successful transfer in 1997."
Yesterday's statement at a New Year celebration in Hong Kong reflects the continuing irritation of Chinese officials at the Governor Chris Patten's decision three years ago to introduce democratic reforms without Peking's agreement - and the Government's stated view that an elected Legco should continue. But after his talks in Bangkok, where he is attending the Asia/EU economic summit which opens later today, the Prime Minister said that Li Peng had shown strong signs that he recognised the need to build confidence in Hong Kong in advance of the handover. Mr Major and other British officials were encouraged by confirmation from Li Peng that China would not send its own officials to govern Hong Kong after 1997.
Mr Major raised what he himself called the "sensitive" choice of chief executive to run the colony after the handover. He said that while Li Peng had not given any indication of when the choice would be made, he had shared his aspiration that the post would be held by someone "acceptable to the people of the colony".
John Major will have to tread the delicate path, on what will probably be the last visit of a British prime minister to the colony before the handover, of calming intense anxiety among many of the colony's inhabitants while not worsening relations - including trade relations - with Peking.
Newcastle manager taunted again as his side loses to Stoke
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before a character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wedding: The famous congratulate actor and human rights lawyer after Venice nuptials
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...
£17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: If you are a committed Te...