UK hopes it's Blair's turn next

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 November, 1997, 12:00am

After President Jiang Zemin's two meetings in as many months with Bill Clinton, Britain thinks it is about time the Chinese leader had a summit with Prime Minister Tony Blair. London is hoping Mr Jiang will attend the Asia-European leaders meeting which it will be hosting next year.

After that, what more natural than for Mr Jiang to stay on for a visit to Britain? For his part, Mr Blair would later go to Beijing.

More realistic sources in London think it may be the new Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, who will attend the meeting. Nonetheless, talks between Mr Blair and Mr Zhu will still be a way of confirming that relations between London and Beijing are on a new post-handover course.

An earlier demonstration of the new direction in London-Beijing relations was the arrival in Hong Kong of Britain's new Consul-General, Sir Andrew Burns.

His seniority and status in the Foreign Office are said to be a sign that Britain is taking its relations with the SAR and China very positively.

Former foreign secretary Lord Hurd - whose U-turns on China policy over the past seven years seemed to amount to a perfect ellipse - was interviewed on RTHK and gave Sir Andrew his enthusiastic backing.

Asked whether the new Consul-General would do a good job, Lord Hurd said he thought he would. After all, he explained, Sir Andrew has a nice new building and good staff.

Oh. So then anyone could do the job? Secretary for Home Affairs David Lan Hong-tsung is determined to maximise the number of voters in next year's Legislative Council elections, and is not going to let minor hindrances get in the way.

Not only does he claim to have 30,000 volunteers lined up to help with next month's door-to-door voter registration, but he is prepared to offer high-ranking bodyguards to protect them on dangerous missions.

Village chiefs, he conceded in a luncheon speech, would have to be enlisted in certain rural districts.

'The villages have too many dogs,' Mr Lan explained.

Hail to the heroes of the Urban Services Department's pest-control squad. It is a matter of no small regret to this column that these intrepid battlers against vermin so often go unsung.

It was with pride, therefore, that we read that a public-housing estate tenant had presented a silver plate to the USD in appreciation of the pest-control section's 'good work in handling a complaint of mosquito nuisance'.

According to the citation in Provisional Urban Council dispatches, Model Housing Estate resident Wong Wai-ling presented the award to the USD's Senior Superintendent (Hong Kong East) Law Shek-kai.

A USD spokesman said that when they received a complaint about mosquitoes in Model Housing Estate from Ms Wong last September, pest-control section operatives immediately carried out an extensive mosquito survey.

'Our staff located five breeding grounds inside a car park and destroyed them by spraying larvicidal oil,' the spokesman said.

Well done, USD!