The Chinese ambassador called on the Prime Minister on 16 March to discuss Hong Kong and other issues of common concern. Our ambassador in Peking is in frequent contact with the Chinese Government; and the Sino-British joint liaison group met in Peking from 24 to 27 April. There is therefore a close and continuing dialogue. The Chinese Government have reiterated their commitment to the joint declaration and its implementation.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the unhelpful, if not belligerent, comments coming out of China about the government of Hong Kong only cause instability that is not in the interests of Britain, Hong Kong or China? Does he agree that, if the Chinese Government were to continue such comments, they might invalidate the Sino-British agreement of 1984 by doing so?
As I have said, the Chinese Government have consistently reaffirmed their commitment to the joint declaration, which binds us and the Chinese Government to work together for the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. We shall continue to work together to achieve that.
When next discussing Hong Kong matters with the Chinese Government, will the Minister raise the issue of trade in ivory between China and Hong Kong? Dr. Leakey has recently been saying that there is to be an extension of the reservation on behalf of Hong Kong. As the Minister has an opportunity today, will he make it quite clear that in no circumstances will there be an extension of the reservation allowing further trade in ivory from Hong Kong beyond mid-July?
I am glad to take the opportunity to reassure the hon. Gentleman that there will be no extension of the reservation. We said that there would not be, and there will not.
Does the Minister agree that it was because the events in Tiananmen Square undermined confidence that China accepted the principle of one country, two systems that there was such a loss of confidence in Hong Kong? What measures have our Government suggested to the Chinese Government to demonstrate to the people of Hong Kong that the concept of one country, two systems is alive and well?
The Chinese Government have specifically said and done nothing to undermine their commitment to the separate maintenance of the capitalist democratic system in Hong Kong. They have constantly reaffirmed their commitment to the joint declaration, which retains that separate way of life in Hong Kong. We and the Hong Kong Government have taken a number of steps within our powers to reaffirm and reassert confidence in Hong Kong, and support by the Chinese Government for those moves would be helpful.
Will the Minister ask the ambassador to tell the Chinese leaders, when he meets them again, that it would help to build confidence in Hong Kong if we had a reassurance that after 1997 they will send into Hong Kong just the police and not the army? If they were to send in the 27th, I would not like it.
It was always understood that, once Chinese sovereignty over Hong Kong returned in 1997, there would inevitably be a right for the Chinese Government to station troops in Hong Kong, should they choose to do so, but that troops could be there only for external defence purposes. We have constantly said that the way in which troops are deployed will affect confidence in Hong Kong.