Testing Times

Tough rhetoric and an atomic blast underline worsening ties between Beijing and the West

AS MEMBERS OF HONG KONG'S LEGISlative Council sat in silence, Governor Christopher Patten unleashed a sharp-tongued salvo against Beijing last week -- a measure of his frustration with the intransigent mainland government. Declaring that Britain and China had only "weeks rather than months" to map out something resembling a democratic future for the colony, Patten threatened to push ahead unilaterally with political reform, specifically his effort to broaden, however modestly, Hong Kong's electoral base, a program that has drawn Beijing's unrelenting ire. In urging the legislators to fight for reform, Patten asked, "If we are not prepared to stand up for...

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