Hong Kong Governor Arrives for Key Talks on Colony’s Future
BEIJING (AP) _ Hong Kong Governor Sir David Wilson arrived today for talks aimed at easing tensions between China and Britain and reviving flagging confidence in the future of Hong Kong.
Wilson, making his first trip to Beijing since the bloody June suppression of the pro-democracy movement, was to meet with a Chinese leadership that has been increasingly firm in opposing political reform in the British colony.
During his three-day stay, he was to talk with Premier Li Peng and Vice Foreign Minister Zhou Nan Ji Pengfei, head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in the State Council.
Wilson said upon arriving that he hoped he would have an opportunity to explain the views of Hong Kong’s people and ″try to re-establish a dialogue which is so important for dealing with the various issues we have facing us.″
″We need to have a correct understanding of the position of both sides so that we can find ways to deal with any particular problems that we face,″ he said.
The visit will be a last chance for Britain to express its views before the final meeting in Canton next week of the Chinese-dominated body drawing up the laws that will govern Hong Kong after it reverts to Chinese rule in 1997.
Relations between China and Britain have deteriorated since the army marched on Beijing June 3-4 and crushed the student-led pro-democracy movement, killing hundreds of unarmed civilians.
China has criticized Britain for permitting pro-democracy activities in Hong Kong, which it has said are aimed at overthrowing the Chinese government, and for trying to ″internationalize″ debate over the colony’s future.
The Chinese government on Dec. 30 also accused Britain of a ″gross violation″ of past agreements in its decision to give 50,000 Hong Kong families the right of abode in Britain before 1997.
The British decision was aimed at providing guarantees for the future of Hong Kong’s most talented people, whose confidence in life under Communist rule was badly shaken by Beijing’s bloody suppression of dissent.
China’s condemnation of the move came several weeks after Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dispatched foreign policy adviser Sir Percy Cradock on a secret mission to Beijing to try to defuse controversies between the two sides.
Wilson was likely to discuss China’s objections to the introduction of more democratic government in Hong Kong, which Britain says is crucial to the stability of the colony.
Vice Foreign Minister Zhou, at the airport to greet Wilson, acknowledged that ″we have had some problems and this is what we don’t like to see.″ He said he believed that through sincere and friendly talks ″there’s no problem we can’t solve.″