'Iron Lady' hailed as promoter of Sino-British relations

Source:Globaltimes.cn Published: 2013-4-9 17:29:00

            Editor's Note

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who led the country throughout the 1980s, died on April 8 following a stroke at the age of 87.

She was the first female head of state in the West, gaining the nickname the "iron lady." She, among a number of Western and Eastern politicians remembered from that era, is a prominent figure.

During her 11 consecutive years as prime minister, Thatcher experienced the climax of the Cold War and the prelude to the collapse of the Soviet Union. She also signed the joint declaration with the Chinese government to hand over Hong Kong and led Britain to victory in the war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, or Malvinas. She was considered a towering figure and played an important, though limited, role in restoring the British economy.

          Media Comments

GT Editorial: Thatcher left UK and China a mixed legacy
The moment makes the man, or in this case, the woman. After Thatcher left office, there haven't been any "iron men" or "iron ladies," partly because the decline in European power means they cannot uphold an iron stance. The evolution of Western electoral culture makes politicians weak at solving domestic problems.

Thatcher could well enter history as a distinctive female politician. Times have changed since the era she experienced.

●Oriental Morning Post
Wu Yikang, Vice President of the Chinese Association for European Studies
“On the issue of Hong Kong’s return to the mainland, Thatcher didn’t lose sight of the big picture. She did what needed to be done to facilitate Hong Kong’s smooth return and the advancement of Sino-British relations,” according to Wu, adding that “apart from this, Thatcher’s record in promoting Sino-British relations didn’t seem impressive.”

He noted that in Europe at large, the UK lagged behind France in political relations with China and behind Germany in economic and trade relations.

●Phoenix TV
He Liangliang, a commentator
At the same time, you should be aware that Thatcher was not a thorough hardliner. She was also defined by realism, a tradition that runs deep in British diplomatic policies. When confronted with China, a tough adversary, she knew how to maintain Britain’s interest in Hong Kong by hammering out a compromise with China. And she achieved it.

Anyway, as the only female Prime Minister in British history, Thatcher has left a great legacy to Britain, Sino-British relations and Hong Kong. And this legacy, I reckon, will stay after she is gone.

     Relations with China

Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping met with then-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Beijing on Sept 24, 1982. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping met with then-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Beijing on Sept 24, 1982. Photo: Xinhua
●Thatcher first visited China in 1977 when she was opposition leader.

●In a heated discussion with Thatcher in 1982, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping insisted on reclaiming sovereignty of Hong Kong after June 30, 1997, and set a two-year deadline in negotiations.

●In 1984, during Thatcher's third visit to China, the two countries signed a joint declaration on the question of Hong Kong, which ushered in a period of sound development in relations between China and the UK.

●Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin met with ex-prime minister of UK Margaret Thatcher at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on September 11, 1991.

●Former Chinese leader Qiao Shi met with ex-prime minister of UK Margaret Thatcher in the Great Hall of the People on March 30, 1995.

Li Weiwei, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies
Thatcher made a great contribution to improving Sino-British ties by removing the biggest obstacle to relations, namely sovereignty over Hong Kong.

Kerry Brown, a British expert on Sino-British relations at the Univesity of Sydney
She contributed to the successful and smooth handing back of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty.

Howe, who served under Prime Minister Thatcher at the time of negotiations about the return of Hong Kong to China in the 1980s

"She was fully engaged in foreign policy throughout her time as prime minister. She had to address a number of very different and important questions -- Hong Kong is one example."

"She was successful over Hong Kong. The achievement of a very stable future for Hong Kong was a success for both the Chinese leadership and for Margaret," he said, adding that "as history has shown Hong Kong has prospered."

Rana Mitter, professor of Modern China at Oxford University

Margaret Thatcher played an important role in the development of UK-China relations. During the discussions over the handover of Hong Kong in the early 1980s, she came to recognize that it was important that the transition from British to Chinese rule should be smooth, and the diplomatic process was positive and productive as a result.

Although she was always determined to stand up for what she regarded as British national interests, she also understood the importance of pragmatism, and of good relations with China.

Tian Dewen, an expert on European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Her visit to China and her decision to promote bilateral ties on economy and trade demonstrated to the Western world the necessity to communicate with China during the Cold War period, and Sino-UK relations have been on good terms since then.

Feng Zhongping, an expert on European issues at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

Thatcher was very willing to develop relations with China. She had some concerns on settling the Hong Kong question at first, but after she visited China and talked to Deng Xiaoping, she changed her mind to facilitate a historic joint declaration between the two governments.

Source: Agencies

         About Thatcher

(Photo: Xinhua/AFP) Name: Margaret Thatcher
Date of birth: October 13, 1925
Birth place: Grantham, Lincolnshire, Britain
Education: Somerville College, Oxford
In office: May 4, 1979 – November 28, 1990
Funeral: Thatcher will not have a state funeral but will be accorded the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

Click to read more>>


More photos:

Union Flags fly at half mast to mourn death of Thatcher
In pictures: remembering British former PM Thatcher
In pictures: British former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Flowers laid outside Thatcher's London home

UK condolence:
British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted shortly after the news broke out, "It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher's death. We've lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton."

The Queen is "sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher and will send a private message of sympathy to the family, " said the Buckingham Palace.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said "She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain's first woman Prime Minister. She moved the center ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage."

Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair called the ex-PM a "towering political figure" who exercised a huge influence over Britain and the world.

"Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world. Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast," he said.

Margaret Thatcher had "laid the foundation of the successful relationship between Britain and China," former British foreign secretary Geoffrey Howe said after the announcement of the former British prime minister's death.

            Int’l Condolence

flag-UN Baroness Thatcher will be remembered as a "towering figure" and a "strong and committed leader", UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said following the news of the death of the former British prime minister, known as the "Iron Lady." 
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on April 9 extended condolences to British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Thatcher was a prominent stateswoman who made great contributions to the development of Sino-British relations, including the peaceful settlement of the Hong Kong issue," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei.
"With the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend," US President Barack Obama said in a statement.
"Margaret Thatcher has demonstrated by herself what a female politician like her could claim in the highest rank of the democratic office, particularly in the days when woman's participation in politics was still not taken for granted," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
"While many in positions of power are defined by the times in which they govern, Margaret Thatcher had that rarest of abilities to herself personify and define the age in which she served," Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. "Indeed, with the success of her economic policies, she defined contemporary conservatism itself."
Describing the "Iron Lady" of Britain as a "transformative figure", Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that under her administration the United Kingdom "registered important progress" in national and international arenas.

World leaders mourn death of 'Iron Lady' Thatcher

            Related Reports

British Parliament honors Thatcher
Thatcher’s ideology tempered by realism
World leaders pay tribute to Thatcher
UK economic decline is Thatcher’s most lasting legacy
Iron lady pioneered pragmatic approach to China’s changes
‘Iron Lady’ actress Streep voices admiration for icon she played in film
India sends condolence on Margaret Thatcher's death
World leaders mourn death of 'Iron Lady' Thatcher
Indonesian president conveys condolences on passing of Margaret Thatcher
New Zealand leaders pay respects to Thatcher
Union Flags fly at half mast to mourn death of Thatcher
In pictures: remembering British former PM Thatcher
In pictures: British former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Flowers laid outside Thatcher's London home
Thatcher "lays foundation" of successful Sino-British relations: Lord Howe
US secretary of state mourns Thatcher's death
UN chief says Thatcher to be remembered as "towering figure"
Merkel hails Thatcher as one of the most "outstanding leaders"
Obama mourns death of "Iron Lady" Thatcher
Cameron shortens Madrid visit due to Thatcher death
Canadian PM says world lost giant leader with Thatcher's death
British former PM Thatcher dies after stroke

Posted in: Frontpage

blog comments powered by Disqus