Hong Kong China Agreement 1997

December 10, 2020 by eklose

MARGARET THATCHER: We have an agreement that is acceptable to an overwhelming majority for the people of Hong Kong. This agreement will cover 50 years after 1997. I think we have done a good job for the people of Hong Kong. While it appears that maintaining a separate economic relationship with Hong Kong SarD will not pose problems for Australia`s relations with China, there is potential for controversy over political and human rights issues that may arise after 1997. This has already been highlighted in the question of China`s creation of an interim legislative council and Australia`s participation in the opening ceremony on 1 July 1997. The British government criticized China`s approach to the creation of the new Council as a violation of the joint declaration and the Basic Law, and the US State Department called it “unjustified and unnecessary.” (34) However, Australia reacted in moderation and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said it was “disappointing that China and Britain could not agree on agreements allowing the elected Legco to continue the handover period. (35) The United States and the United Kingdom also announced that they would not be formally represented at the ceremony, while the Australian government decided to participate. There is no indication that other countries in the region, such as Japan or ASEAN members, or European countries, will boycott the ceremony. However, from the beginning, the two parties had different views of the evolution of the process.

The British side regarded the drafting of the Basic Law as a purely Chinese responsibility, but did not expect Beijing to immediately embark on this task. The British apparently assumed that between 1984 and 1997, it was time to put in place effective constitutional rules in the region to “converge” with the provisions of the Basic Law, including any reforms that the British government might have undertaken. On the other hand, from a Chinese perspective, the Basic Law should largely reflect the state of the political arrangements that prevailed in the territory in 1984. Another powerful element was introduced when the negotiations came under intense pressure from the people of Hong Kong, following the massive anti-Beijing sentiment of the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989.

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