Local women facing raw deal under China

HONG Kong women's groups have spent years trying to convince the Government to extend the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to the territory. It appears the British Government has now agreed to extend it to Hong Kong as it realises it can no longer maintain the illogical, unprincipled and perhaps racist policy of applying the convention to protect British women only. Christine Loh Kung-wai's proposed amendment is simply further recognition of the right of Hong Kong women to equal legal treatment.

Unfortunately, the deputy director of Xinhua (the New China News Agency) in Hong Kong, Zheng Guoxiong, stated the Chinese Government would ''reverse any changes made to the New Territories inheritance law after 1997'' (Sunday Morning Post, March 27), thus promising to re-institute the traditional privileges of men there.

Women on the mainland are not subject to similar discriminatory legislative treatment. Not only has China signed the convention, but its inheritance law states women and men have an equal right to inherit property.

Next year, Beijing will host the United Nations International Conference on Women. The Chinese Government is aggressively promoting this conference and portraying its treatment of women as one of the most enlightened on earth.

Was Mr Zheng expressing the official view of the Chinese Government? If so, Hong Kong women should take note they cannot expect any better treatment under China's ''enlightened'' policies relating to women than those of the present Hong Kong administration.

If Mr Zheng was not expressing the official position, then Beijing should reassure Hong Kong women the post-1997 leadership will not re-institute sexual inequality into the New Territories Ordinance.

ANN D. JORDAN Lecturer-in-Law Chinese University of Hong Kong