Chris Patten is currently Chancellor of Oxford University. As a British MP (1979-92) he served as Minister for Overseas Development, Secretary of State for the Environment and Chairman of the Conservative Party, being described afterwards as 'the best Tory Prime Minister we never had' (Observer). He is well known for being the last Governor of Hong Kong (1992-7), about which he wrote in East and West (1998). Both that and his most recent book, Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths about World Affairs (2005), were No. 1 international bestsellers. In 2008 he wrote What Next? Surviving the Twenty-First Century. He was made a Companion of Honour in 1998 and a life peer in 2005.
In June 1992 Chris Patten went to Hong Kong, as the last British governor, to try to prepare it for the handover back to China in 1997. This talk will give unprecedented insights into negotiating with the Chinese, and how he sought to ensure that a strong degree of self-government would continue after 1997. Unexpectedly, his opponents included not only the Chinese themselves, but some British businessmen and civil service mandarins, for whom political freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong seemed less important than keeping on the right side of Beijing. He will conclude with a powerful assessment of recent events and his reflections on how to deal with China - then and now.