China's ex-proxy in Hong Kong fired for 'betrayal'


BEIJING -- China's former top official in Hong Kong, who last year fled an investigation of his support for the 1989 pro-democracy movement, has been accused of 'betraying' China and dismissed in absentia from the nominal Parliament, it was reported Friday.

The standing committee of the largely powerless National People's Congress formally removed the exiled official, Xu Jiatun, on Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency said.


A report by the standing committee said the 75-year-old Xu betrayed his people and position when he quietly slipped out of Hong Kong last April, only to surface in the United States, Xinhua said.

'Xu Jiatun ... left China and went abroad on April 30, 1990, without authorization, and has not yet returned,' Xinhua quoted the NPC report as saying.

'Xu has betrayed the people, caused extremely bad consequences both at home and abroad, and betrayed the basic conditions expected of an NPC deputy,' it said.

Xu, a one-time associate of senior leader Deng Xiaoping, had been elected to the nominal legislature by the Canton People's Congress.

For seven years until his retirement in February 1990, Xu was China's top representative to Hong Kong, serving as head of the Xinhua news agency's Hong Kong bureau and winning friends in Hong Kong political and business circles.


The Xinhua office acts as Beijing's unofficial consulate to the British colony and represents the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Xu slipped quietly out of Hong Kong in April after learning of a Chinese government investigation of his political conduct during the pro-democracy demonstrations that stunned China and the world in spring 1989.

Xu is believed to have approved -- or at least not intervened -- when Xinhua staff members in Hong Kong expressed public support during the massive 1989 protests, which erupted in Beijing and spawned sympathy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Some Xinhua staffers even joined the Hong Kong marches.

Xu surfaced at a Buddhist retreat outside Los Angeles and has maintained a low profile during his nine months of exile.

The official investigation reportedly also focused on Xu's financial and real estate dealings while he was serving in Hong Kong.

Chinese sources have said embarrassed government officials viewed Xu's travel to the United States as 'somewhere between an unauthorized trip and a defection,' and long offered the official explanation that Xu had left China for 'travel and rest.'

Clearly Xu has rebuffed behind-the-scenes entreaties to return to China.

Ironically, during his tenure Xu had been Beijing's chief voice of reassurance to the colony's nearly 6 million people over worries about their future after Britain returns sovereignty to China in 1997.


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