Future envoy defends swearing-in role

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 1997, 12:00am

Britain's senior representative in Hong Kong said yesterday that his planned presence at the swearing-in of the provisional legislature did not imply a change of stance.

Senior Trade Commissioner Francis Cornish, who becomes consul-general on Tuesday, said the inauguration ceremony was not only for the provisional body. He was attending because Tung Chee-hwa would also be sworn in, as would his principal government officers and the judiciary.

'These are individuals and institutions which we support and which we want to work very closely with,' Mr Cornish said.

He defended London's decision to send him and Joint Liaison Group leader Hugh Davies to the ceremony, despite the boycott by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

A Government House spokesman said the Governor was comfortable with the decision. There was a distinction between elected ministers and officials, he said.

European Union ministers meeting in Luxembourg last night declined to follow Britain's boycott.