'Limited' British influence after handover

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 May, 1997, 12:00am

A top British negotiator yesterday admitted Britain would have a limited role after the handover, despite its presence on the group monitoring the Joint Declaration.

Speaking after the last session of the Joint Liaison Group (JLG) before the handover, British team leader Hugh Davies said Britain could impose diplomatic pressure in cases of China violating the agreement.

'There is a limit to the influence and power that Britain can bring about if there are actions taken by the Chinese which are inconsistent with the Joint Declaration,' he said.

'But we would do what we can with the weapons at our disposal, which are largely diplomatic ones.' Mr Davies said he believed the international community would also voice concern.

On the subject of the provisional legislature, Mr Davies said it would be up to individuals to challenge its legality.

Britain had not considered whether to take legal action in local courts.

Expressing regret at the work of the interim body, Mr Davies urged China to stop the legislative process which would make future legislation vulnerable to legal challenges.

Yet he was adamant the JLG would continue to monitor implementation of the Joint Declaration after the handover.

He also insisted China was obliged to follow the provisions as one of the signatories.

The post-handover JLG would continue its role in a similar manner to China's monitoring of Britain's actions here during the 12-year run-up to July 1, Mr Davies said.

But his Chinese counterpart, Zhao Jihua said the JLG should be a liaison group rather than a power organ.

'We disagree when the British side says the JLG should play a monitoring role,' he said. 'According to the Joint Declaration, the JLG is a liaison organ, not one with power.' Mr Zhao said the British side had proposed confining the function of the JLG to liaison when it was formed.

Describing the definition of the group's role as not urgent, Mr Zhao said the two sides had time to continue the discussion after July 1.

But he stressed all local affairs would become internal affairs of the Special Administrative Region after that date and no foreign country should interfere.

BRITAIN'S HANDOVER GUEST LIST Leaders of 15 APEC member countries; Leaders of 13 fellow members of the European Union; Leaders of 16 countries with close Hong Kong ties: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Vietnam, Zimbabwe; Macau; Leaders of about 30 bodies, including the IMF, the World Trade Organisation and United Nations; Representatives of consulates except those without diplomatic relations with China, such as South Africa.