Bill of Rights clouds start of talks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 November, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 November, 1995, 12:00am

BRITISH and Chinese negotiators were optimistic as they opened a fresh round of Joint Liaison Group (JLG) talks yesterday, despite sharp differences over the Bill of Rights.

Before the three-day meeting started in Beijing yesterday morning, British JLG leader Hugh Davies said the Preliminary Working Committee (PWC) proposal to water down the bill was not on the agenda, but this need not prevent Britain from raising it for discussion.

Chinese officials say the PWC proposal is an internal matter for China. Instead, they are seeking a commitment from Britain not to change more laws before 1997.

Britain had said earlier it would try to persuade China not to endorse the PWC legal sub-group proposal, but a senior Chinese official made clear on Monday the PWC recommendations mirrored the official stance.

At the press session at the Diaoyutai Guesthouse Chinese JLG leader Zhao Jihua used the weather as a metaphor for the mood of negotiators.

He expressed regret about a drop in Beijing temperatures and gusty winds. 'But usually after a strong wind, you will have fresh air and good weather. For example, we have few clouds today,' he said.

The Democratic Party will seek approval from the Legislative Council House Committee on Friday to debate a motion on the PWC proposal in next week's session.