Cradock warns of Legco 'suicide'

THE Legislative Council will be committing suicide if it calls Beijing's bluff and passes the Governor's political reform bill, according to Sir Percy Cradock, the former foreign affairs adviser to the prime minister.

He said Legco would be signing its own death warrant. ''It would be wound up, extinct, in 1997.'' Sir Percy, who made the remarks in Hong Kong yesterday, is on a business trip that also takes in China.

He has met the Director of Xinhua (the New China News Agency), Zhou Nan, but declined to reveal what was discussed.

''Mr Zhou is one of those who can brief me on how Hong Kong is developing under the present confrontation between Britain and China,'' Sir Percy said.

But he emphasised Mr Zhou was ''no friend or sparing partner''.

Sir Percy remained critical of the current British policy on Hong Kong and maintained that it was entirely counter-productive, harming rather than helping the development of democracy in the territory.

He also argued that the British Government rather than Legco was responsible for the well-being of Hong Kong, even after 1997, and so it had a responsibility to halt the collision between Legco and Chinese authorities.

''They [Legco] are being encouraged, indeed driven, into a situation which is a legislative charge of the Light Brigade. It seems to me that a responsible government would be rolling them back, pulling them back from that conclusion.'' If the confrontation continued Hong Kong would be doomed, especially in the constitutional arena, Sir Percy said.

''In the central area which is about democracy, the rule of law, continuity of administration, then I am afraid Hong Kong is shooting itself in the foot,'' he said.

Sir Percy said he would not be meeting Governor Chris Patten during his visit to the territory as he had not been invited.