Tuesday, November 18, 2008


CNN Press Release - Former European Commissioner and statesman Chris Patten, best known as the last governor of Hong Kong speaks to CNN’s Anjali Rao for the latest edition of TALK ASIA. He gives his thoughts on U.S. President elect Barack Obama, what Obama must do to tackle the global financial crisis and his ‘distaste’ for outgoing President George Bush. As Patten revisits a few of his old haunts in Hong Kong he also tells Rao how he got into politics and what he misses most about the city.

Despite being a former chairman of the British Conservative Party, Chris Patten supported a Democrat as the next U.S. president: “I think that I would find myself having some difficulty in sitting down in the same Party with, for example, Governor Palin…President Obama would not I think be regarded in European politics as particularly left-wing, I suspect that while he will have, for an American, quite a pronounced interest in fairness and social equity, that he’s quite a cautious, cool cat.”

His opinion of President Bush as “the worst U.S. President” is again echoed when he shares with Rao that “I don’t think there will be much nostalgia about the Bush years.” But in all fairness that “I think it would be wrong to think that everything was hunky–dory before Bush and that all you need to do is to send him back to Crawford and Vice President Cheney to shoot his friends and everything will be fine.”

Patten’s take on the financial crisis is that China has an increasingly influential role in the world’s economy: “And if you expect the Chinese for example to put their hand in their pocket and to take out larger sums of dosh in order to bail out the international financial system; they for their part, can reasonably expect to be given a bigger role in policy making in international institutions.”

Patten also reminisces on his days when he oversaw the former British colony between 1992 and 1997 as the last governor, a period which ensures he is still well-recognized and quite a crowd pleaser. When asked how he sees the city going forward, especially now that it is being run by his former financial secretary Donald Tsang, he says: “I think it’ll go on being special. I don’t think it’ll ever lose this vibrancy or vitality, and I’m sure it’ll go on being free and one day it’ll be democratic.” He knows that the Chinese leadership was not sad to see him go as it was well known that he clashed almost weekly with the government. As he says: “I think after it was all over, they recognized that despite the turbulence of our public exchanges…Hong Kong that they took over in 1997 was a huge success story, and some of them hadn’t expected that.”

For more program information on TALK ASIA visit www.cnn.com/talkasia.

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