Britain has an interest in Hong Kong's political crisis, but a mainland official says the issue is not up for discussion British Prime Minister Tony Blair is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Sunday for a four-day visit for wide-ranging discussions on bilateral, regional and global issues. But the political crisis in Hong Kong, where the financial secretary and secretary for security have resigned, is likely to be kept off the open agenda. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said Hong Kong was part of China's internal affairs and the mainland had been strictly observing the 'one country, two systems' pledge. The British embassy in Beijing declined to speculate on the content of the talks before the meetings took place. Britain is perceived as still having considerable influence on Hong Kong and could be consulted for its insight on handling the current political crisis. Mr Blair will meet President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Central Military Commission chairman Jiang Zemin. He will open a centre for clean energy at Tsinghua University on Tuesday before leaving for Shanghai. During his trip to Hong Kong from Tuesday to Thursday he will meet Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. Mr Blair had initially planned his visit for April to meet the new Chinese leadership. The trip, his second to China after an October 1998 visit, was delayed because of the Sars crisis and the Iraq war where Britain joined America's so-called 'coalition of the willing'. Although China leaned towards the anti-war stance adopted by France and Russia, Chinese firms have been eager to take part in some post-war reconstruction projects. Mr Kong yesterday confirmed that Iraq would be on the agenda of talks during Mr Blair's visit. The North Korean nuclear crisis, which has strong regional and global repercussions, will also be broached. Britain, which is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, can cast decisive votes on the proliferation issue. Xing Hua, an expert on the European Union at the China Institute of International Studies, said Sino-British relations had generally been treated within the framework of China-EU relations. A case in point is Chris Patten, who as the last British governor of Hong Kong had been repeatedly vilified by the mainland, but was warmly received as EU external affairs commissioner, Mr Xing said. He said that the overall smooth bilateral relationship was unlikely to be marred by strong disagreement over issues such as Tibet and the mainland's human rights record. Britain has long maintained a sympathetic attitude towards the exiled Dalai Lama, whom China regards as a political activist outside its borders. Mr Blair is also known for his outspoken stance against repression by brutal regimes and his preparedness to exert the weight of global opinion to influence such issues. Trade and investment are expected to be spotlighted in the visit as Britain is the fourth largest trading partner of China behind Japan, the US and Germany. Last year, bilateral trade totalled US$11.4 billion, with China chalking up a considerable surplus. The last Chinese leader to visit Britain was Mr Hu who included the country as part of an European tour in 2001.