LEGISLATORS believe the visit of the British minister responsible for Hong Kong, Alastair Goodlad, to China next month will help the working relationship of the two countries on non-political issues.
United Democrats legislator Yeung Sum said it showed China and Britain could get down to business on Hong Kong again, increasingly important as the handover neared.
Many important issues awaited decisions, such as the new airport, infrastructure projects and localisation of laws, and he hoped the visit would speed up negotiation.
The Liberal Party also welcomed Mr Goodlad's visit and said it should help to strengthen co-operation.
Mr Goodlad has been invited by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to visit Beijing. It will be the first visit to China by a British Foreign Office official since last July, when Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd pushed for a breakthrough in talks on 1994/95 electoral arrangements.
Beijing-appointed Hong Kong affairs adviser and Preliminary Working Committee member Professor Lau Siu-kai agreed that Mr Goodlad's visit was a clear sign that both governments were willing to re-establish a more stable relationship.
''It is clear that both governments have decided to brush aside their differences on political development and to strengthen co-operation on non-political areas, such as economics and social issues,'' he said.
However, he warned against high expectations, as China continued to see Governor Chris Patten's presence as a major obstacle for Sino-British relations to resume to pre-1989 levels.
Assistant director of Xinhua (the New China News Agency) Wang Rudeng said he had not heard of the scheduled visit, but hoped the two countries could strengthen co-operation.