Fanling Lodge served as a secret venue for talks between China and Britain over Hong Kong's future prior to the 1997 handover, former monetary chief Joseph Yam Chi-kong said. "I sincerely appeal to everybody in society to leave Fanling Lodge alone" Yam wrote in an article published in the Hong Kong Economic Journal yesterday. "The significance of [the lodge] goes beyond being a welfare benefit for Hong Kong's chief executives... It witnessed the Sino-British collaborative efforts in paving the way for the handover of Hong Kong's sovereignty, including the foundation of Hong Kong's monetary and finance policies," Yam wrote. The lodge hosted a series of negotiations during the transition to 1997, he said. Yam recalled his participation in one such secret meeting when he was deputy secretary for monetary affairs in December 1988, a time when the political atmosphere was tense and people were anxious about the future. It was a meeting of a top-level Sino-British taskforce on financial affairs. He said five Chinese officials, including Lu Ping , the leading Beijing official in charge of Hong Kong affairs in the run-up to the handover, met him, then Financial Secretary Sir Piers Jacobs and Secretary for Monetary Affairs David Nendick. The Chinese team had chosen to come to the lodge by helicopter from the border town of Man Kam To because they did not want to be seen. They discussed monetary topics including new accounting arrangements, the Linked Exchange Rate System, and the establishment of a monetary authority for Hong Kong, which Yam eventually steered.