Climate change on British minister's agenda for HK visit

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 May, 2007, 12:00am

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is expected to raise awareness of climate change when she visits Hong Kong this month.

The trip, in the politically symbolic period ahead of the 10th anniversary of the handover, will be her first to the city, and also to Beijing, since she took up the post in May last year.

Mrs Beckett, who visited Hong Kong during the World Trade Organisation conference in December 2005 as agriculture minister, is a strong advocate of an international campaign to combat the threat of climate change.

During a ground-breaking UN Security Council debate last month on the impact of climate change, she highlighted the 'security imperative' of tackling climate change since it could exacerbate problems that caused conflicts and threatened the planet.

Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said: 'This is, after all, an area she is passionate about.'

Ms Lau said she had received an invitation to a lunch with Mrs Beckett on May 21 at a function that would be attended by Hong Kong politicians, businessmen and the media.

The foreign secretary will give a speech on British-Hong Kong relations during the lunch.

'I hope Britain will use this opportunity to put pressure on Beijing and the Hong Kong government over human rights and democracy issues,' Ms Lau said.

It is not clear how long Mrs Beckett will stay in Beijing, or which state leader will meet her. A spokesman for the British consulate declined to comment.

In the British government's six-monthly report on Hong Kong in July last year, Mrs Beckett said it would monitor the city's democratisation progress 'very carefully', and urged the implementation of universal suffrage as soon as possible.

Ms Lau said she was told that Mrs Beckett might not have time to meet pan-democrats individually to discuss constitutional reform during her three-day trip, which will include a meeting with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.