National People's Congress

JLG to discuss ideas for '97 transfer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 December, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 December, 1995, 12:00am

TALKS on the 1997 handover ceremony will start this month with the first expert-level meeting convened by the two chief negotiators in the Joint Liaison Group.

However, early decisions on the celebrations after the inauguration of the Special Administrative Region are unlikely, Chinese team leader Zhao Jihua said.

The first expert talks between Mr Zhao and British counterpart Hugh Davies would be held soon to start mapping out details of the event, as agreed between Vice-Premier Qian Qichen and Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind in October.

Mr Zhao said the JLG talks would only deal with the ceremony of the handover of sovereignty.

The detailed celebrations will be finalised by the chief executive-designate and his team, scheduled to be named after mid-1996.

Mr Zhao said they would have to hold discussions with the British side first because 'Hong Kong's situation is very unique. There are no similar cases in the past that we may borrow their experience in the ceremony arrangements.' The senior diplomat declined to say whether they were in favour of holding the ceremony on the Wan Chai waterfront, said to be favoured by the Government.

A senior source close to the JLG said he did not think China would embarrass Britain over the ceremony. 'It will be an embarrassment to China if it ends up in a mess,' he said.

The Urban Council decided last week to freeze bookings at major venues in June and July 1997 to allow flexibility for officially organised ceremonies.

Meanwhile, all 69 members in the Preliminary Working Committee have been appointed to the powerful Preparatory Committee, prominent pro-Beijing figure Tsang Hsin-chee revealed yesterday.

Mr Tsang, a member of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said Beijing had drafted a member list for the 150-strong transitional body, to be discussed in the NPC meeting next week.

He said there should not be any problem with appointing existing Executive Councillors to the committee.

Only people who were anti-China and not upholding the Basic Law should not be invited, he added.