Massacre Prompts Demands to Review Hong Kong Agreement With AM-China, Bjt
LONDON (AP) _ Some lawmakers, angered at the massacre of Chinese students by troops in Beijing, demanded Monday that Britain reconsider an agreement to hand over Hong Kong to China in 1997.
If the accord is not reversed, the colony’s 3.25 million British subjects should be allowed to settle in Britain, politicians said.
But Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe on Monday told a senior Chinese diplomat that Hong Kong’s future remained ″inextricably bound ... with mainland China″ and reaffirmed Britain’s commitment to the agreement.
″It is now up to the Chinese authorities to set about the task of assuring the people of Hong Kong that they will stick by the declaration,″ Howe said.
The accord, signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984, stipulates that Hong Kong will continue under a capitalist system for 50 years after the handover to the communist Chinese.
″We have to find ways of protecting the people of Hong Kong,″ said David Howells, chairman of the influential House of Commons foreign affairs select committee.
″Having got a treaty with a government that can shoot people down like this, we must have a reassurance that the spirit of the treaty stands,″ said Howell, a legislator in the governing Conservative Party. ″It must be an occasion for re-examination.″
Howe said he expressed ″shock and outrage″ in a 25-minute meeting with Chinese Charge d’Affaires Song Mingjiang over the weekend attack on students who were peacefully demonstrating for democratic reform in Tiananmen Square.
Britain canceled all visits by Cabinet ministers and Howe said a scheduled trip to China this autumn by Prince Charles and Princess Diana would be unthinkable unless Chinese authorities repudiate the crackdown.
Howe said, however, allowing the citizens of Hong Kong to immigrate to Britain would ″raise extreme difficulties.″
Of the 5 million population in Hong Kong, a crowded enclave off mainland China, 3.25 million have the right to ″British dependent territory″ passports that specify the holder cannot live in Britain.