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China says has no interest in Charles's diary

By Staff
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BEIJING, Feb 23 (Reuters) China today brushed aside the controversy over Prince Charles's diary, in which the heir to the British throne expresses fears about corruption in the Chinese army, citing a lack of interest. Charles is suing the Mail on Sunday for breach of copyright and confidentiality for publishing extracts of the journal, which covers a trip to Asia for the 1997 handover of the British colony of Hong Kong to China.

''I haven't seen this personal diary,'' a straight-faced Liu Jianchao, spokesman for China's foreign ministry, told reporters in Beijing. ''And I don't think we would be interested in the diaries from such people.'' The diary extracts revealed Charles had described Chinese officials as ''appalling old waxworks'' and called an official ceremony ''an awful Soviet style display''.

The full text of the journal appears to amplify concerns about parts of the Chinese establishment.

''All the locals were being outwardly thoroughly optimistic about the immediate future but in the background was the sneaking worry about creeping corruption and the gradual undermining of Hong Kong's greatest strength -- the rule of law,'' he wrote.

''Apparently in China itself the Army is heavily involved in pretty corrupt business practice, so one can only hope they are confined to barracks in Hong Kong.'' REUTERS SHR RK1430

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