Mon, Nov 14, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Prince Charles gave`appalling' Chinese a lashing over HK

AFP , LONDON

Scathing remarks against the Chinese government by Britain's Prince Charles made during the 1997 handover of Hong Kong were revealed in a British newspaper yesterday.

In his journal of the handover, at which he represented Queen Elizabeth II, Charles allegedly described Chinese diplomats as "appalling old waxworks", the Mail on Sunday reported.

The remarks attributed to Charles could cause a diplomatic row with China just three days after Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) completed a short state visit to Britain.

Charles' Clarence House office are "seriously considering taking legal proceedings relating to the issue," a spokesman said, believing the material was accessed unlawfully.

The Mail on Sunday said the text came into its possession "entirely legitimately."

The prince allegedly described his horror at the "awful Soviet-style display" as Chinese troops "goose step" to "haul down the Union Jack and raise the Chinese flag" as part of a "ridiculous rigmarole."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also came in for criticism.

The 3,000-word journal, entitled The Handover of Hong Kong -- or `The Great Chinese Takeaway' was circulated to a clutch of relatives, friends, political contacts and courtiers.

The Mail on Sunday called it a "brilliantly witty but acerbic memoir."

Charles writes a detailed account in his own hand after returning from foreign trips, which were freely circulated in his office during the 1990s.

Clarence House acknowledged the Hong Kong journal's authenticity and accepted its importance and historical interest, the Mail on Sunday said.

The prince allegedly wrote: "After my speech, the president [Jiang Zemin (江澤民)] detached himself from the group of appalling old waxworks who accompanied him and took his place at the lectern.

"He then gave a kind of `propaganda' speech which was loudly cheered by the bussed-in party faithful at the suitable moment in the text."

He said the Chinese brought in a wind turbine to ensure that their newly-hoisted flags would "flutter enticingly," it continued.

Charles worried that the Chinese army might intimidate local residents.

"One can only hope they are confined to barracks in Hong Kong," he allegedly wrote.

Charles revealed his apparent frustration at the bureaucratic Chinese regime and his fear that the rule of law would be abandoned in the former colony.

He also allegedly attacked the then new Prime Minister Blair for his use of advisers.

"They then take decisions based on market research or focus groups, or the papers produced by political advisers, or civil servants, none of whom will have ever experienced what it is they are taking decisions about," he allegedly wrote.

There was some sympathy for Blair, who spent 14 hours each on the flight to the Far East, in Hong Kong, then on the plane home.

He was also witty about his own flight arrangements.

Initially he was puzzled "as to why the seat seemed so uncomfortable" before discovering that he had been put in club class while political dignitaries had been seated in first class.

"Such is the end of Empire," he mused.

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