Qian Qichen, China’s deputy premier from 1993 to 2003 who oversaw Hong Kong’s handover, died on May 9 in Beijing, state news agency Xinhua reports. He was 90.
Qian also served as the country’s foreign minister from 1988 to 1998.
Educated in the former Soviet Union, Qian was a veteran diplomat well versed in Russian and English and helped China restore ties with the West following the Communist Party’s crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
In the run-up to Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty, Qian became heavily involved in Hong Kong affairs when he became the director of the National People’s Congress’ Preparatory Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in January 1996. The committee was Beijing’s liaison unit in charge of the formation of the new SAR government as well as the handover ceremony.
In a 2002 interview with Hong Kong media, Qian warned local politicians against establishing ties with overseas entities and any attempt to split the nation, stressing legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law was a must. He said the SAR government should enact the article on its own.
Qian was also known for banning Taiwan representatives in Hong Kong from discharging duties in any official capacity or title that might manifest Taipei’s own sovereignty.
Xinhua called Qian a “proven loyal communist fighter and a proletarian revolutionist” in the official obituary.
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