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Fourth echelon

Revealed: Bizarre plan to relocate entire 5.5m population of Hong Kong to Northern Ireland

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Even at the time it must have seemed like a truly bizarre idea.

In the midst of the Northern Ireland Troubles, it was suggested that the entire population of Hong Kong should be uprooted and relocated in a new city built in the middle of the province.

While the scheme may appear too preposterous for words, newly-released files at the National Archives in Kew, west London, show that it nevertheless sparked a flurry of correspondence in Whitehall.

The plan was the brainchild of a lecturer at Reading University, Christy Davies, who warned that when Britain handed back Hong Kong to China in 1997, there would be no future for its 5.5 million inhabitants.

The alternative, he suggested, was to resettle them in a new "city state" to be established between Coleraine and Londonderry - a move, he said, which could revitalise the stagnant Northern Ireland economy.

When details of his scheme appeared in the Belfast News Letter in October 1983, they caught the eye of George Fergusson, an official in the Northern Ireland Office.



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