978-0-316-64018-3 / 9780316640183

The Last Governor: Chris Patten & the Handover of Hong Kong


Publisher:Little, Brown & Company



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About the book:

This book interweaves the stories of a unique city and a controversial politician. Appointed governor of Hong Kong in 1992, Chris Patten was to prepare the prosperous colony for Communist Chinese rule, a reversal of the independence normally associated with the end of colonialism, in 1997. Though his hands were tied by politics and history, Patten did his courageous best to develop democratic structures that would survive China's takeover. Besides bitter Chinese opposition, he faced resistance at home from compliant British diplomats to firebrand Hong Kong politicians, even some members of the local business community who feared profits would be lost in any confrontation with China.

Dimbleby's access as a close friend of Patten gives credibility to his behind-the-scenes account. Of particular value are his descriptions of the machinations of the foreign office in London and civil service in Hong Kong, and his analysis of the tortuous creation of political systems that led to Hong Kong's first, and possibly last, direct election in 1995. In the process, he lays to rest the notion that Hong Kong people do not care about democratic freedoms and are interested only in getting rich. He tells a lively tale of a fearless man who began his impossible task reviled by the local press but who left the colony, tears in his eyes, having gained the trust of his charges. --John Stevenson

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