Letter: British can hold Hong Kong Island

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Sir: I was interested to read the letter from Christine Loh about Hong Kong (16 April).

In four years' time, the British Government will hand over Hong Kong to China, the only unreconstructed Communist government in the world, and it is almost certain that China will not live up to its promise in the 1984 Agreement to keep Hong Kong in its present state for 50 years.

Hong Kong consists of two parts: the Island of Hong Kong, with a population of one and a quarter million, and the New Territories. The Island of Hong Kong is a Crown Colony and does not have to be handed over to China in 1997, and should not be, since it can be British in perpetuity. It is the New Territories that are on a 99-year lease from China and have to be returned in 1997. The British Government should make sure that the Island of Hong Kong gets its own water supply, since at the moment it depends on getting it from the New Territories.

If people are frightened that the Chinese would take the Island of Hong Kong by force, I have been to Quemoy, which is run by the Taiwan government and is less than a mile from the Chinese port of Shanghai. It has not been invaded by China, since the Chinese fear an American retaliation. China would not, in my view, invade the Island of Hong Kong since we would make it clear that, if it did, Britain would retaliate, as it did in the case of the Falkland Islands.

If the Chinese government became more democratic during the next four years, that would be a different matter.

Yours faithfully,

HUMPHRY BERKELEY

London, W4

16 April

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