MOTHER Teresa arrived in Hongkong yesterday and confirmed her ambition to open an orphanage in China.
The frail 82-year-old founder of the order of the Missionaries of Charity said: ''The time will come, and we will go to China.'' She confirmed that there had been discussions about a mission house in China since her visit to Beijing in 1985. ''We have always wanted to go to China and it looks now like they are coming to us,'' she said, referring to 1997.
Mother Teresa is in Hongkong for four days to visit her missions here and in Macau and to receive an honorary degree in social sciences in recognition of her work among the poor.
She said she was accepting the degree in the same spirit in which she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, ''for the glory of God and the good of all people''.
Her message for Hongkong was: ''Please look after the people who need tender love and care. Bring the unwanted to the sisters. Irrespective of nationality, we will give love and care to all in need.'' Before going to Macau today, Mother Teresa will call on the Governor, Mr Chris Patten. ''I want to tell him that in this beautiful, rich city there should be more tender love and care, especially among the young.'' On the matter of child suicides, she said young people needed hope and love. ''They commit suicide because they feel unwanted.'' When asked how her health was bearing up, following a second heart attack and bout of pneumonia last year, she said: ''I have no time to care about that.'' She has not considered retirement. ''When the time comes, God will say it is enough.'' Her order has 3,000 sisters working in 493 houses in 96 countries.
Despite her fatigue and need to stop for 10-minute breaks, Mother Teresa embarked on a gruelling round of visits, beginning with Cardinal Wu at the Catholic Diocese Centre.
Cardinal Wu greeted her at the door with a hug before escorting her to his office for a private audience, during which he presented her with a statue of the Madonna made in Shanghai and a donation for her personal charities.
Mother Teresa came into her own when she reached Nam Cheong Estate, in Shamshuipo, which houses the sisters' street sleepers' shelter, homes for the aged and which the order calls home in Hongkong.
Crowds of residents gathered to greet her. People swamped her, trying to touch her sari, pushing small children at her, asking for her blessing.
There were tears from some of the elderly who lined the path.
The scenes of joy were repeated as she made her way from bed to bed in the street sleepers' shelter and homes for the elderly.
Mother Teresa then attended a special Mass celebrated in her honour at Shamshuipo.