Xu Jiatun dies in exile, aged 100 - RTHK
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Xu Jiatun dies in exile, aged 100

2016-06-29 HKT 17:20
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  • Xu Jiatun dies in exile, aged 100
Wendy Wong reports
Beijing's former top envoy in Hong Kong, Xu Jiatun, has died in exile in the US city of Los Angeles. He was 100.

Xu, a former Communist Party official, headed the Hong Kong Branch of the Xinhua News Agency from 1983 to 1990, when it was considered Beijing's de facto embassy in the city. He was considered a liberal figure in the Communist Party.

In 1989, he gave tacit permission to pro-mainland newspapers in Hong Kong to express grief over the massacre in Beijing's Tiananmen Square of students taking part in a pro-democracy movement.

Xu fled the country after he learned he was being investigated over his sympathetic stance towards the group, and sought refuge in the United States in 1990. He was later expelled from the Communist Party.

News of Xu's declining health had been circulating recently. Reports said he was suffering from heart and kidney problems. Xu passed away at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Pro-Beijing DAB lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, who worked with Xu on the Basic Law drafting committee before the handover, described him as an open-minded man, saying that was a rarity for a mainland official in the 1980s.

Democratic Party lawmaker, Albert Ho, said it was sad that Xu passed away on foreign soil.

"He died at such an advanced age, hopefully in a very peaceful manner. I think there is not much for him to regret, except he was not able to go back to his native place and then spend the rest of his life there. In fact he had expressed a lot of wishes in the last 10 or 20 years of his life-time of his strong desire to return to the mainland", Ho said.

Labour party lawmaker, Lee Cheuk-yan, said the way Xu was treated by his own party showed that the Communists cannot be trusted.