Beijing warns against haste

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 July, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 July, 1993, 12:00am

A SENIOR Chinese official yesterday cautioned against speedy democratisation for Hongkong.

The warning came in response to British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd's call on Tuesday for Beijing to recognise that the territory had evolved into a political city.

Wang Qiren, a deputy director of the Chinese State Council's Hongkong and Macau Affairs Office, said: ''The Special Administrative Region (SAR) government will become more and more democratic, but democratic development must be progressive.'' Drawing an analogy between democracy and traffic congestion, he said: ''The road is very busy and you are worried and want to speed up . . . you want to travel at 120 miles [per hour].

''But this is impossible because the road needs substantial upgrading before it can handle [vehicles] travelling at 120 miles an hour.

''The same theory should also apply to democratic development. We hope there will be progressive reforms to a democratisation plan truly supported by Hongkong people and this is a day which will certainly come.'' Mr Wang's comments came hours after the creation of a coalition crusading for full democracy.

The new group, Full Democracy in '95, demanded that all 60 seats in the Legislative Council should be directly elected in 1995.

The group, led by prominent legislators Emily Lau Wai-hing, Christine Loh Kung-wai and Lau Chin-shek, comprises more than 35 individuals and 11 concern groups.

It will protest outside Government House tomorrow, the first anniversary of Mr Patten's governorship.

Miss Lau said the group's aim was to show London and Beijing that Hongkong's six million people were ready and eager for a fully elected legislature.

She hoped Mr Hurd and his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen, would heed her group's views.

''We would like to make sure that Mr Hurd and Mr Qian can hear our voice when they meet in Beijing on Friday. We urge those sharing the same view with us to speak up.'' Mr Patten said yesterday he hoped the Qian-Hurd meeting would help push the Sino-British talks towards a satisfactory conclusion.

Asked if he agreed Hongkong was a political city, as Mr Hurd had stated, Mr Patten refrained from giving a direct answer.

''What I think Douglas Hurd did extremely accurately was to describe the consequences of economic and social change, not just in Hongkong, but everywhere,'' he said.

''When you get people becoming better off . . . that has an effect on their interest in what's going on about them, and in their interest in having a say in what's going on about them.''