Mrs. Thatcher's name goes down in history for facilitating Hong Kong's return to

2013-04-16 04:25:01  来源:大公报

    Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died yesterday in London, following a stroke.She was 87.Her poor health had hardly been news in recent years.But her passing away at a sudden was still regrettable.The "Iron Lady" of her generation will from now on be remembered in history, together with all the major events she had partaken in.

    Without doubt, Mrs. Thatcher was one of the most important and best known Western political leaders in the contemporary era.She was the first, and hitherto the only, female prime minister in the United Kingdom, and she had hosted 10 Downing Street for the longest period of time having been in office for three successive terms. But what had won Mrs. Thatcher worldwide respect and enabled her name to go down history were mainly two achievements.

    In April 1982, Argentina's military junta invaded the disputed Falkland Islands, over which both Argentina and UK claimed their territorial sovereignty.At that time, the British economy remained sluggish and political forces both in and out of the government did not think it worthwhile to spend money by sending troops to fight for the sake of "a herd of sheep".Mrs. Thatcher insisted on not giving up territorial sovereignty and decisively sent an expeditionary force to retake the islands.In the end, the Argentina's troops were defeated and retreated, and Mrs. Thatcher won the nickname of "Irion Lady".

    However, for the seven million Hong Kong people and even the whole Chinese people, their deepest impression of the "Iron Lady" was not the Falkland Islands War, but Hong Kong's end of the 150-year British colonial rule and return to the Motherland.

    As her personal reputation reached the zenith with Britain's victory in the Falkland Islands War, in late September of 1982, Mrs. Thatcher arrived in Beijing to open talks with the Chinese government over Hong Kong's "future".At that time, inside the handbag of this "Iron Lady" included the argument that "the three treaties are valid", the proposal to "exchange sovereignty for the right to rule", and even such almost intimidation-like “prediction” that “Hong Kong will fall into a disaster if the British pulls out”┅

    The "Iron Lady" was "iron" enough.Unfortunately, her adversary this time was Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who was even tougher than "steel".Following Deng's sonorous and forceful words, spoken sternly out of a sense of justice, that" we don't want to become Li Hongzhang" and "sovereignty is nothing negotiable", the "Iron Lady" had to soften up.And on her way out of the Great Hall of the People, she had her "historical tumble" on the doorsteps.

    The process of hard negotiations was full of ups and downs.Finally, on December 19, 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration regarding Hong Kong's return to the Motherland in 1997 was signed in the Great Hall of the People.It was the successfully-reelected Mrs. Thatcher who represented the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to sign on the declaration.At that moment, this "Iron Lady" showed a kindly and friendly smile.As she said in an interview with BBC on the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the Motherland:“I was very disappointed... What I wanted was a continuation of British administration.But when this proved impossible, I saw the opportunity to preserve most of what was unique to Hong Kong through applying Mr. Deng's [one country, two systems] idea to our circumstances."

    The success of a great political figure lies in not one's courage to insist but in one's daring to revise, seeing through the nature of a problem and following the historical trend to seek a solution which would be the most effective and most acceptable to all parties.Mrs. Thatcher had accomplished this on the Hong Kong problem.Having gained a deep understanding of the Chinese leaders and people's feelings about history and their determination not to forget the century-long national humiliation, she showed her courage and commitment to Britain's national interests and historical responsibility, and signed on the Sino-British Joint Declaration without hesitation.This had put an end to a not-so-glorious historical chapter of invasion and colonialism for Britain, and also removed an obstacle and paved the way for China and Britain to further develop their friendly cooperative relationship.It was such an "Iron Lady" who had made a correct decision on a turning point in history, which was beneficial to both Chinese and British peoples.The British people will not forget her achievements, and the Chinese people including Hong Kong citizens will never forget the important contributions she made during Sino-British negotiations to facilitate Hong Kong's return to the Motherland.To Mrs. Thatcher's life, a just and lofty historical appraisal must be given.

    09 April 2013

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