Jiang-Clinton meeting at forum not on the cards

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 12:00am

President Jiang Zemin is not expected to meet former US president Bill Clinton when the two men attend a business forum in the SAR next month.

It is understood that Mr Jiang will arrive on May 8 to address the opening dinner of the forum at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and probably enjoy a fireworks display before leaving the next day.

A source said Mr Jiang would have a tight schedule and it was unlikely he would meet Mr Clinton, who will deliver the closing luncheon remarks on May 10 at the international forum, which is organised by Fortune magazine.

Mr Jiang is, however, expected to meet Tung Chee-hwa and top officials Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Antony Leung Kam-chung, who will by then have assumed their new roles as Chief Secretary for Administration and Financial Secretary respectively.

Sources said the arrangements were not related to the recent souring of Sino-US relations, because the visits were planned before the spy plane incident on Hainan Island.

The two men steadily built up a personal relationship that helped bring about a gradual, although not constant, improvement in ties during Mr Clinton's eight-year term as US president.

Mr Clinton's office has not confirmed the details of his visit to Hong Kong, but he is expected to stay at the Grand Hyatt Hotel next to the convention centre in Wan Chai.

Mr Jiang is expected to spend a night at tycoon Li Ka-shing's Harbour Plaza Hotel in Hunghom, where he stayed twice when he visited Hong Kong for the handover ceremony in 1997 and the anniversary celebrations the next year.

The choice of hotel may steer Mr Jiang clear of protests, including a planned petition by 200 local Falun Gong members, as he could be ferried directly from Hunghom to the convention centre.

Marine police are expected to set up an exclusion zone as part of the protection for Mr Jiang if he takes the sea route.

The forum will also be attended by Thailand's Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and business leaders including Dai Xianglong, governor of the People's Bank of China; the chairman of the Goldman Sachs Group, Henry Paulson Jnr; and the co-founder of Yahoo! Inc, Jerry Yang.