Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the UK, and the first female head of government in Europe, has died. Here are some pictures of her in a Hong Kong context:
There is a lot of anger nowadays over the role of the British government, and Thatcher in particular, for giving China control of Hong Kong and essentially washing their hands of the place. But the historical record is clear that actually Thatcher was against returning all of Hong Kong initially, and only acceded when Deng Xiaoping made it clear he would invade if necessary.
I leave the last word on the Hong Kong perspective to the Big Lychee, who is basically right about her influence and symbolism, and especially why so many are wrong about her.
Update: Oh, new last word: A broadcast interview with Margaret Thatcher about Hong Kong and China. Does anyone know more details about it, such as who is interviewing her and when?
Another update: A transcript of a speech in the House of Lords by Margaret Thatcher given in December 1992, soon after she become a member of that chamber. One depressing quote:
“It is already agreed that half the members of the Legislative Council will be directly elected in the year 2003. That means that there could be universal suffrage by 2007, 10 years after the end of Britain’s responsibility. It is not perfect perhaps, but it is a provision for steady and orderly progress towards full democratic elections.”
Her strong support for democracy and universal suffrage in Hong Kong, including Chris Patten’s attempts to expand the franchise in 1995 against the vehement opposition of the Chinese government and its local lackeys, should give the current pro-“business” anti-democracy forces in Hong Kong much pause.