Cornish praises 'restraint'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 September, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 September, 1997, 12:00am

British envoy Francis Cornish has praised senior Chinese officials for allowing the SAR a free hand to run its own affairs.

However, the Consul-General said Britain was concerned by the big cut in the electorate for next year's election.

Mr Cornish said: 'Our overriding impression is of a community which has changed very little in the 2.5 months since the handover,' he said yesterday at a lunch hosted by the British Chamber of Commerce.

For instance, the press was still free. 'Both the English-language and Chinese-language newspapers have continued to operate with a high degree of editorial independence and in a free and outspoken manner,' he said.

'There has been no diminution in the quality of Hong Kong's press, which remains a source of accurate information and generally-sensible comment.' Mr Cornish said people continued to hold demonstrations 'in exactly the same way as they would have done under British administration'.

'I welcome the enlightened restraint which senior Chinese officials have shown in standing back and letting the formidably-competent and efficient SAR Government get on with its job,' he said.

Mr Cornish, however, added that it was still too early to make a definite conclusion. 'We do have concerns about some of the arrangements for next year's elections,' he said, citing the disenfranchisement of more than 2.5 million voters in the functional constituency polls.