Hurd unconcerned by 'expansionist plans'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 1997, 12:00am

Former British foreign secretary Lord Douglas Hurd has dismissed claims China plans to spread its economic and political power across the world.

Lord Hurd, who was foreign secretary from 1989 to 1995, said that while the mainland did not appear to have expansionist aims there would remain 'edges of dispute around the Chinese world', such as Taiwan.

He said when Britain started negotiating the Basic Law and Joint Declaration in 1984, the 'task of preparation looked much more formidable than it does today.

'The whole question of 'one country, two systems' then seemed extraordinarily difficult. The process of a communist state and capitalist city living under the same flag has become a reality. I look forward to it with hope and confidence.' Lord Hurd, who is deputy chairman of NatWest Markets, was speaking at the Pacific Rim Forum on British perspectives of Asia in the 21st century.

'Ideas are at work. It was ideas and not tanks which brought down the Soviet Union and it's ideas and not tanks that are changing China politically.' Lord Hurd said the 'two ideas loose' in the world today were that 'men and women deserve and do best' when they had some form of political representation and that economics prospered best in free and open markets.

Lord Hurd said the two major threats to global stability in the next century were organised crime linked to drugs, religious fanatics or terrorists; or, savage civil wars and slaughters from within the states.