Vietnamese refugees who have sailed into this British colony from China will be returned in several groups beginning Saturday, Chinese and Hong Kong negotiators announced today.
More than 7,000 Vietnamese refugees from China have poured into Hong Kong since July 1, according to Hong Kong government statistics. Many of the refugees were seeking to improve their standard of living.
The negotiators met Tuesday and today in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, about 90 miles from Hong Kong, to work out a repatriation plan.
A joint statement issued at the end of the talks said that the two sides agreed upon procedures for sending the refugees back to China and that they would "be implemented as quickly as possible."
The statement did not say how many refugees would be returned in the first batch.
Hong Kong considers the Vietnamese illegal immigrants since they already had been resettled in China.
More than 280,000 Vietnamese, mainly of Chinese heritage, settled in southern China in 1978-79, when relations between the two Communist neighbors deteriorated. The refugees said they were persecuted in Vietnam.
Hong Kong officials have sought a speedy repatriation of at least some refugees to discourage others from fleeing to the British colony, whose resources have been strained by the influx.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wu Xueqian reassured a senior official of the U.N. refugee organization that China would take back the Vietnamese refugees.