Diplomacy: Countdown to a Crisis

Britain dickers with China over the future of Hong Kong

Even for the vague, elliptical world of international diplomacy, it was a desultory summit. After a ritual wiping of hands and sipping of tea, the two leaders spent 2½hours (about half of it in translation) exchanging contrary views and, for all intents and purposes, agreeing only to disagree. Then, in an unfortunate conclusion to the visit, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher left her final meeting in Peking with China's senior leader, Deng Xiaoping, only to stumble face first on the broad stairs. The unintended symbolism of the spill in full view...

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