Chris Patten, the sinner of 1,000 years, returned to Beijing yesterday to shake hands with his former adversaries. 'God moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform,' said Mr Patten, the European Union's External Affairs Commissioner, after meeting Premier Zhu Rongji. 'I was last in the Great Hall of the People in May 1989 for the Asian Development Bank meetings and I was last in Peking in 1992 for a vigorous and certainly not supine exchange about issues, so it was nice to be back.' Mr Patten was vilified by mainland officials and the press because of plans to introduce democratic reform to Hong Kong while he was governor. Asked whether there was any bad blood, he said 'no' and pointed out that he met Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan in New York in September and other leaders during the Macau handover, including his old sparring partner, Lu Ping. He said that, in a manner of speaking, Chinese leaders had 'been in business for several thousand years and they know that I am the commissioner for external relations until 2005, and they were as civil and courteous as you would have expected'.