Beijing negotiator on Hong Kong affairs Lu Ping dies at age 87
Former director of Hong Kong affairs office oversaw the city's return to Chinese sovereignty
Lu Ping, Beijing's tough-talking point man on Hong Kong affairs during the city's handover to Chinese rule in 1997, has died at the age of 87.
The State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), which Lu headed from 1990 to 1997, announced yesterday that its former director died at Beijing Hospital in the capital on Sunday evening.
The brief notice did not say what illness Lu had suffered, but a mainland official close to him said he had succumbed to cancer of a type that was not specified.
Local politicians and others who knew him remembered Lu as a gentle, easy-going man, and even his critics had praise for him.
Former governor David Wilson, who was on good terms with Lu when he headed the British colonial administration from 1987 to 1992, said the Beijing official's expertise and deep knowledge of Hong Kong would be sadly missed.
"His phenomenal understanding of the details of Hong Kong's institutions made it possible for him to play a significant role in the drafting of the [Sino-British] Joint Declaration in 1984," Wilson told the South China Morning Post.
Born in Shanghai in 1927, Lu graduated from the prestigious St John's University in 1947. He joined the HKMAO in 1978.
As such, he was one of a handful of mainland officials who oversaw Hong Kong's handover from beginning to end.
He was a key member of the Chinese delegation in the Sino-British talks on Hong Kong's future and later, a deputy secretary general of the Basic Law Drafting Committee.
He retired from the HKMAO a few days after the handover.
In a statement issued yesterday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying expressed "profound sadness" at Lu's death.
"Mr Lu worked relentlessly to maintain Hong Kong's prosperity and stability…[He] left indelible footprints in the formulation and implementation of the principle of one country, two systems," said Leung.
But many Hong Kong people remember Lu best as the feisty man who condemned former governor Chris Patten as a "sinner for 1,000 years" back in 1993 for disrupting the handover by changing the election system for the Legislative Council in breach of the Basic Law.
Additional reporting by Ng Kang-chung