LETTER: Britain's role in her territories

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The Independent Online
From Mr Neville Maxwell

Sir: British journalists, including your own, are propagating a myth about Hong Kong - that is, as Raymond Whitaker put it ("Imperial relics cling to British rule", 14 August), Britain's "attempts to entrench the rule of law and a measure of democracy have infuriated the Communist leadership in Peking". In 1984, Britain began its belated attempts to introduce a measure of democracy in Hong Kong and to entrench the rule of law - and succeeded in doing so, with the full agreement of the Chinese government.

What "infuriated" Peking was Governor Chris Patten's action in unilaterally extending the "measure of democracy" that had been agreed, and formalised in a treaty, without consulting China about his intended constitutional changes. Mr Patten deliberately challenged Peking, breaking Britain's treaty commitment to consultation in doing so, and has paid the price in his own increasing irrelevance.

Yours faithfully,

Neville Maxwell