British foreign secretary to pay first visit to Hong Kong

Other News Materials 20 February 2008 08:05 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is to meet Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang on his first visit to the former British colony next week, officials announced Wednesday.

Miliband plans to visit Hong Kong Monday as part of a five-day official visit to China that is to include calls on Beijing, Chongqing and Shanghai, the British consulate said.

In Hong Kong, Miliband is to have a meeting with Tsang, take tea with a cross-section of legislators and meet members of the British business community, a spokeswoman said.

He then plans a press conference at the British Council before heading for the next leg of his China tour in Shanghai, she said.

Miliband, like all visiting British officials in recent years, was expected to call for full democracy as soon as possible for the former colony, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

China has so far blocked universal suffrage in Hong Kong even though the city's mini-constitution allows for democracy from 2007 onwards.

Speaking ahead of his visit to China, Miliband, who was appointed foreign secretary in June, said: "I am pleased to have been able to visit Hong Kong so early in my time as secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs.

"The UK has long-standing partnerships with China and Hong Kong, which I plan to promote through even closer cooperation. They have a pivotal role in the international response to today's global challenges, including climate change and poverty."