Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint speech made with the Chinese Premier, Li Peng, in Peking on Tuesday 3rd September 1991. The speech was made following the signing of a memorandum of understanding for a new Hong Kong airport.
PREMIER LI PENG:
Honourable Prime Minister John Major, Ladies and Gentlemen present:
The Memorandum of Understanding concerning the construction of the new airport in Hong Kong and related questions between the Chinese and the British Governments has just been formally signed into force. This is a delightful major event as a result of the common efforts from both the Chinese and the British sides; it not only contributes to the maintenance of Hong Kong's status as an international financial trade and business centre but also provides favourable conditions for our sides to intensify cooperation in the future on the question of Hong Kong.
One country/two systems and the maintenance of the long-
The Chinese Government always attaches importance to long-
This morning, I held friendly, businesslike and frank talks with Prime Minister Major on Sino-
May the visit by the Honourable Prime Minister John Major be crowned with complete success. [Applause].
PRIME MINISTER JOHN MAJOR:
We have been able to discuss many matters last evening and this morning but on this occasion we are here to sign a vitally important document. This Memorandum of Understanding provides a firm basis for building a modern airport to meet the expanding needs of Hong Kong; it is the fruit of arduous negotiations; it meets the principal concerns of all parties; on its initialling and publication two months ago, it was widely welcomed in Hong Kong and internationally.
The airport at Chek Lap Kok together with its supporting infrastructure is a massive project. I am delighted that we have with us today the Governor of Hong Kong and some of the senior members of the Hong Kong Government; it is they who have the overall responsibility for it. Work will now forge ahead. The first main call for tenders has already been issued; all such tenders will be open to international competition. I know that Hong Kong's overriding concerns in the interests of Hong Kong taxpayers are cost efficiency and reliability; I know, too, that some first-
The construction of this new airport is vital for Hong Kong's future stability and prosperity but it is more than that; it is also a key factor in the preservation and enhancement of Hong Kong's role as a centre of regional and international civil aviation but I see this understanding on the airport as having a still wider significance in that it marks a new phase in the relationship between Hong Kong, Peking and London.
Seven years ago, in December 1984, the Joint Declaration was signed here in Peking by my predecessor, Margaret Thatcher. Much progress has been made towards ensuring the smooth implementation of the provisions of this historic Agreement. At first, our good relations and joint purpose ensured that progress was smooth and relatively fast. More recently, this has not been the case and we have encountered difficulties. It is, however, a tribute to our common responsibilities as Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council and our shared commitment to the people of Hong Kong that despite these difficulties we continue to talk to each other and seek a solution to them. These contacts have now been productive; thanks to them, we have been able to reach the good Agreement on Hong Kong's new airport which we have signed today and now we look to the future. As we do so, it is clear that the Joint Declaration remains the strong corner-
We have also solemnly confirmed our approach to the transition period. Up to 30 June 1997, the British Government are responsible for the administration of Hong Kong with the object of maintaining and preserving its economic prosperity and social stability; the Chinese Government will give its cooperation in this connection as we are agreed there is no question of the Chinese Government seeking any veto, condominium or joint administration. Instead, what is happening is what the Joint Declaration laid down clearly -
Mr. Premier, this is a good Agreement. When Douglas Hurd was here in April, General Secretary Jiang Zemin talked about the transitional period before us; he used an old Chinese proverb about how people travelling in the same boat need to help each other whatever difficulties may come between them. I think that is a good metaphor. Our shared objectives have always been clear -