JLG experts begin new talks
By CHRIS YEUNG
JOINT Liaison Group (JLG) experts will today begin talks before the next full plenary session, which is due to be held in the territory next month.
Legal and aviation experts will meet today to discuss air-services agreements between Hong Kong and other countries.
Defence experts are also expected to meet soon on the implementation of the agreement reached by the JLG last year on the disposal of military sites.
Other meetings in the pipeline include talks on the sewage strategy and international agreements.
But sources said there was no sign of a meeting on the Court of Final Appeal, which is set to be the most contentious issue at the JLG session.
The British side wants a definite answer from their Chinese counterparts at next month's plenum on the draft bill to set up the court.
It would then decide whether to table the bill to the Legislative Council, and when.
Government thinking is that enough time has to be given to the legislators to deliberate on the bill so it can be passed at the current session, which ends in July.
Despite warnings by some Chinese officials against any unilateral move by Britain to put the bill to the Legco, it is understood the British side remains firm that an early establishment of the court is essential to uphold the rule of law.
London was prepared to pay the price of a setback in the Sino-British relationship for the court plan, a source said.
The source said it was likely the upcoming JLG session would enjoy some moderate success on some less politically sensitive issues.
These would include the air-services agreements, franchises and international treaties.
According to a JLG announcement yesterday, the British team at today's expert talks on air agreements will be led by Alan Paul. His Chinese counterpart will be Wang Weiyang.
The British side is expected to seek the Chinese endorsement on air agreements reached by the Government and foreign countries. Hong Kong has already concluded 10 such agreements with other countries.
It is believed about 10 more will have to be signed before 1997 to enable continued aviation arrangements after the territory's handover.
Privately, officials said they were confident the issue would be resolved in view of the common interest both sides have in maintaining the status of the territory as the region's hub.
Among the major air agreements to be concluded between both sides include those with the United States and Britain.