Letter: Patten shuns China's assembly

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The Independent Online
Sir: Neville Maxwell often goes to extraordinary lengths as an apologist for Peking. But his attempt to blame Governor Patten for China's decision to dismantle Hong Kong's democratically elected Legislative Council surely takes the biscuit. (letter, 30 December).

The fact is that China is replacing a body elected in Hong Kong by over a million people in September 1995 by one selected over the border by just 400 friends of China. And of the 60 people picked in this way, 51 were chosen from among those making the selection. And why is China doing this? Because it wants to reduce the number of Democrats in LegCo. It is like abolishing the House of Commons, replacing the electorate with a group of hand-picked rich and famous people voting for themselves, and holding the selection in France. And yet Mr Maxwell has the gall to accuse Mr Patten of gerrymandering.

International lawyer after international lawyer, including a distinguished group of lawyers testifying to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee in 1994, has found the electoral arrangements for the 1995 LegCo elections to be in line with both the Joint Declaration and Basic Law. You won't find them queuing up to defend China's recent efforts. The International Commission of Jurists has denounced the "provisional legislature", and China has conspicuously failed to accept Britain's invitation to go to the International Court of Justice for a ruling on the matter. It is not hard to see why.

The establishment of the "provisional legislature" is a wholly unnecessary and foolish step for China to take. The Hong Kong government will have nothing to do with this body, and will continue to work with Hong Kong's only legitimate legislature - that elected in record members by the people of Hong Kong just 15 months ago.


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