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1991 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Hong Kong

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview given on his arrival in Hong Kong on Wednesday 4th September 1991.


QUESTION (Brian Barron, BBC TV):

What sort of message, Mr. Major, do you bring to Hong Kong from Peking?

PRIME MINISTER:

The first message I bring to Hong Kong is that I am very pleased to be back in Hong Kong. It is many years since I was last here; I am very pleased to be back. I am much looking forward to the discussions I shall have, to what I shall see in the next day or so and to the opportunity to listen to the views of the people of Hong Kong. I think it is an important time to do that and I am very pleased to do it.

I come here directly from Peking. The visit to Peking was in the interests of the people of Hong Kong, to ensure that we could sign the Airport Agreement and that that could proceed both in its own right and because of the impact that will have on the future prosperity of Hong Kong; and I also had the opportunity there of advancing work in the Joint Liaison Group - it previously was getting stuck, I think it will now advance and think that is very much in the interests of Hong Kong too.

QUESTION (Michael Brunson, ITN):

Is the detainee going to be released in Hong Kong and even if he isn't, is that a good gesture by the Chinese?

PRIME MINISTER:

I will have something to say when it has actually happened. I discussed that matter yesterday; I made my views about it quite clear. I very much hope that we will see some movement; when we have the movement, when the detainee is back here in Hong Kong, I shall feel free to comment.

QUESTION (Michael Brunson, ITN):

But they have said that they intend to release him. Do you regard that as a helpful gesture?

PRIME MINISTER

Yes, it is a helpful gesture but I would like the detainee back here in Hong Kong with his family where he belongs and when that happens I will be very pleased but let us wait and see it happen.

QUESTION:

And what do you hope to demonstrate by going to the Vietnamese boat people camp?

PRIME MINISTER:

I want to see the problem for myself. Since my period as Foreign Secretary and onwards, I have been familiar with the problem. I have lived with it, not in the same way that people in Hong Kong have lived with the problem but it is one that has been there. It is a serious problem for the people of Hong Kong. It is serious for the Vietnamese people themselves who have come here in the wholly false belief that there is a place for all of them in the West; that isn't the case. I wish to go and look at the camps for myself and judge the problem; I think it is wise to do so while I am here.

QUESTION:

Tell us a little bit about how you hope to return them to Vietnam.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think I had better go to the camp. I will have a full press conference tomorrow and we will discuss all these matters on that occasion.

QUESTION (Michael Brunson, ITN):

There are a lot of fears here, as you know, that China is playing as it were too great a role already. Do you come from China reassured that that is not now the case?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is not the case and is not going to be the case. In the communique we issued yesterday, we reaffirmed fully the Joint Declaration; we reaffirmed the fact that between now and 1997 Hong Kong people are going to run Hong Kong - I explicitly made that point at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding - that is the position. The arrangement is exactly as it was negotiated in 1984 and hasn't changed.

QUESTION:

But Peking will have a say in borrowing requirements, we have been told.

PRIME MINISTER:

There are many things that go on and extend way beyond 1997 in which it is in the interests of Hong Kong to have a stable situation that will survive after 1997. We have to deal with these things on a practical basis. All that was foreseen in the theory and the clauses of the Joint Declaration; we have reaffirmed that again. We have reaffirmed explicitly yet again that after 1997 Hong Kong will continue for 50 years at least in the same capitalist tradition that has made it such a remarkable success in recent years. I went to Peking to make sure all that was re-confirmed; it was re-confirmed; it was re-confirmed in the communique; both China and Britain have put their signatures to that communique so upon that point I am here to reassure Hong Kong but predominantly I am here to look, to listen and to see how we take policy forward.