Chief Executive holds 'useful, cordial' talks with British Prime Minister

Wednesday, October 22, 1997

The Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, held wide-ranging talks yesterday (Tuesday) in London with the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair.

The talks at No 10 Downing Street were described by Mr Tung as 'very useful and friendly'.

Present with Mr Blair were the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Chief of Staff, Mr John Holmes, Britain's Consul General in Hong Kong, Mr Francis Cornish, and British Consul General Designate for Hong Kong Sir Andrew Burns.

"We covered a full range of subjects which are of mutual interest to the United Kingdom and to Hong Kong and it was a very good opportunity to discuss many of these subjects rather comprehensively," Mr Tung said after the meeting.

"It was very, very useful."

During the meeting, Mr Tung briefed Mr Blair on the smooth running of Hong Kong since the Handover and the successful implementation of the 'one country, two systems' concept.

Topics discussed included next year's Legislative Council elections, increasing HK-UK and Sino-UK trade links, China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Vietnamese Refugees in the SAR.

In regards to the WTO, Mr Tung assured Mr Blair that Hong Kong was fully committed to promoting free trade.

In full day of meetings during his first official visit to the UK as Chief Executive, Mr Tung briefed a high-powered business luncheon at the HongkongBank headquarters on the Hong Kong's investment environment and financial markets and also guest of honour at a reception at the Chinese Embassy hosted by Ambassador Ma Zhengang.

Last night Mr Tung delivered a keynote address at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council Annual Dinner in London, which was attended by more than 370 people including business chiefs and political leaders.

In reply to the speech, Britain's Foreign Minister Derek Fatchett praised Mr Tung on the smooth running of Hong Kong, stating "we are pleased with the way in which Hong Kong has developed since the first of July".

"The biggest and most important story for all of us is the message here tonight, and I think from the first 100 days, that Hong Kong continues to grow and is successful," said Mr Fatchett.

"Hong Kong flourishes. It flourishes in a number of ways to which C H (Mr Tung) has already referred. That strong, impartial, highly respected civil service. That judicial system that has its integrity and an integrity that is intact and continues to develop.

"C H reminds us there are 20 to 30 demonstrations a day and showing very clearly, and manifesting the right to protest, the right to exercise different opinions all part of that Hong Kong way of life."

Today (Wednesday), Mr Tung has another full programme which includes meetings with Britain's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr Derek Fatchett and Secretary for Trade and Industry, Mrs Margaret Beckett.

Also on the agenda is a breakfast meeting with the Hong Kong Association and a keynote address at the influential Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Mr Tung leaves for Hong Kong tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon and will arrive on Friday morning.