China 'unrealistic' to expect Patten to abandon reforms

Fanny Wong

THE convenor of the Co-operative Resources Centre (CRC), Mr Allen Lee Peng-fei, said yesterday it would be unrealistic for China to expect the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, to abandon his constitutional reform plan.

However, Mr Lee said that it did not mean the package could not then be amended to provide a basis for the two sides to re-open talks.

Speaking at a radio phone-in programme, Mr Lee also expressed hope that the Prime Ministers of China and Britain, Mr Li Peng and Mr John Major, could sit down and discuss the subject.

Mr Lee's remarks were made on the eve of today's crucial Executive Council meeting, where a decision on whether members should endorse Mr Patten's blueprint will be taken.

Should Exco give the green light to Mr Patten's plan and forward the bill to the legislature without any amendments, Mr Lee said the CRC would consider proposing changes.

Any amendment would be in accordance to the Basic Law and the principle of convergence, said Mr Lee, adding that whether China would accept the CRC model was up to China.

But China's Vice-Premier, Mr Wu Xueqian, yesterday reiterated that Beijing would stand firm on the principle that the change of Hongkong's sovereignty had to be carried out according to the Basic Law.

Speaking at a meeting with a delegation from a Hongkong grass-roots organisation, Mr Wu stressed that maintenance of Hongkong's long-term stability and prosperity and its close links with the mainland was beneficial to the prosperous development of China.