Once described by the Observer as Chris Patten ‘the best Tory Prime Minister we never had,’ Patten is currently Chancellor of Oxford University.
When MP for Bath (1979-92) he served as Minister for Overseas Development, Secretary of State for the Environment and Chairman of the Conservative Party. He was Governor of Hong Kong from 1992 until 1997, Chairman for the Independent Commission on Policing after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and European Commissioner for External Relations from 1999 until 2004.
The Hong Kong Diaries, published on the 25th anniversary of the handover, details Patten’s experience of the remarkable point in history from his unique perspective as the last British Governor of Hong Kong.
In June 1992 Chris Patten went to Hong Kong as the last British governor, to try to prepare it not (as other British colonies over the decades) for independence, but for handing back in 1997 to the Chinese, from whom most of its territory had been leased 99 years previously.
Over the next five years he kept this diary, which describes in detail how Hong Kong was run as a British colony and what happened as the handover approached. The book gives unprecedented insights into negotiating with the Chinese, about how the institutions of democracy in Hong Kong were (belatedly) strengthened and how Patten sought to ensure that a strong degree of self-government would continue after 1997.
Unexpectedly, his opponents included not only the Chinese themselves, but some British businessmen and civil service mandarins upset by Patten’s efforts, for whom political freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong seemed less important than keeping on the right side of Beijing. The book concludes with an account of what has happened in Hong Kong since the handover, a powerful assessment of recent events and Patten’s reflections on how to deal with China – then and now.
Join us for a talk from an experienced politician with invaluable insight into a hugely significant point in Hong Kong’s (and Britain’s) history – as well as his thoughts on future relations with China.
Please note, this is now taking place at St Swithin’s Church on the Paragon (same date and time as before).