B-M plans to retain Hong Kong account.

Burson-Marsteller is negotiating with the chief executive of Hong Kong, Tung Chi-Hwa, to carry out media relations and public affairs for the region after next week’s hand-over to the Chinese.

Burson-Marsteller is negotiating with the chief executive of Hong

Kong, Tung Chi-Hwa, to carry out media relations and public affairs for

the region after next week’s hand-over to the Chinese.



B-M’s Hong Kong office has handled media relations and public affairs

for Tung in Hong Kong and overseas since October 1996 on an eight-month

contract.



Tung will take over from governor Chris Patten when the 60-strong

provisional legislature is sworn in on 1 July. He will govern Hong Kong

until elections are held early in 1998.



The agency was retained by Tung’s office, the office of the chief

executive of the special administrative region, to represent it through

the hand-over. The contract expires next month.



’I still think there will be a role for us but that is under

discussion,’ said John Clarke, head of B-M’s public affairs division in

Hong Kong.



He would not disclose fees but said the account was his division’s

second largest. His biggest client is tobacco company Phillip

Morris.



PR for Tung’s office is also handled by the former colony’s Government

Information Service.



Public affairs business in Hong Kong is increasing as a consequence of

the hand-over, according to Clarke. ’Where there is uncertainty there is

enormous potential for public relations firms,’ said Clarke.



Changes in Hong Kong over the last few years have reduced the influence

of the business community. Patten made businesses more accountable

through the Consumer Council. The number of elected legislators, many

from democratic parties, has increased during his term.



Over the coming year grass roots politicians from pro-China parties,

such as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, are

expected to gain more seats on the legislature, the district boards and

the regional councils.



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