Letter: Patten shuns China's assembly

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The Independent Online
Sir: Governor Chris Patten's attempts to broaden the democratic base failed completely in so much as there will shortly be no popularly elected representation at all. They also caused a deterioration in Sino- British relations and encouraged Peking's latest, at times even paranoid, suspicions that somehow we scheme to extend British influence beyond 1997.

It is, however, unfair to call these reforms a gerrymander to "strengthen the electoral chances of the anti-Peking party". They were instead maladroit and ill-advised, as indeed is Mr Patten's description of Peking's appointment of an interim chamber for Honk Kong as "stomach turning". Former governors of Hong Kong, undemocratic by appointment and in practice, never spoke of the Chinese government in such undignified terms.

There is every sign that China will adhere to the "one country, two systems" principle originally announced by Deng Xiaoping. It is very much in China's interest to maintain a prosperous and stable Hong Kong and the bulk of the population accepts this. One thing is sure: outside attention will have little bearing on how China acts in her newly resumed territory.

IAN RAE

Drinkstone, Suffolk

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