Xu Jiatun, Beijing’s former top man in Hong Kong who fled to US after Tiananmen, dies at 100
Senior Communist Party official lived in Los Angeles since 1990
Xu Jiatun, a former Communist Party cadre who was Beijing’s top envoy in Hong Kong for seven years through a period of political turbulence on the mainland and anxiety in the city, died on Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 100.
The Communist Party stalwart, who went into exile in the United States a year after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, was hospitalised last month for renal failure and heart problems. His children said in a statement that he remained fully conscious even in frail health.
“He was concerned about the situation in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the rest of the world,” they said, listing his age as 101, in keeping with the Chinese method of counting age.
Xu rose through the ranks over a six-decade career that took him from his native Jiangsu (江蘇) to a high-profile role directing Xinhua News Agency in Hong Kong.
He served in the post from 1983 to 1990 as China and Britain negotiated the city’s future in the run up to the 1997 handover.
He was sympathetic with the students in the 1989 pro-democracy movement at Tiananmen, a move that led him to flee the country. He was then barred by Beijing from returning.
Martin Lee Chu-ming, a former member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee and founding chairman of the Democratic Party, said Xu was an open-minded official willing to listen. In 1987, Xu offered to provide Lee with financial help to form a political party but Lee rejected the offer.
Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing praised Xu as a very capable political figure.
Xu is survived by eight children.