SECURITY was tight as guests gathered at the Convention Centre yesterday for Lu Ping's only public speaking engagement on his current tour. The great man was accompanied at all times by a bevy of personal bodyguards. Police set up two rows of crowd barriers outside. Everyone entering the hall passed through one of those special gates designed to bump off gentlemen with pace-makers. No one without proper identification was allowed in. All that just to ensure neither Chris Patten nor Anson Chan slipped by unobserved? Perhaps. The last thing the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office would want would be for us to be able to say he'd taken lunch with the Chief Secretary after all. It's amazing, given the hassles getting in, that anyone bothered to turn up at all. In fact, apart from the few senior government officials invited along to show it was only the two top people who were being snubbed, very few local businessmen were planning to attend. The only way the hall could be filled was to strong-arm the Bank of China to book a dozen tables and seat its own guests at them. Clearly, the stay-aways knew something the media pack didn't - while journalists hung on to Mr Lu's every word, many of the assembled worthies were dozing off. Expatriate businessmen were the only ones with a good excuse. The speech was delivered in Mandarin. THE secret diary of Lu Ping (aged 681/2) must be full of dinner and lunch appointments with ladies of which we in the press are unlikely ever to know anything. But one engagement the press did get wind of was the dinner at the Country Club hosted by patriotic businessman, former Basic Law drafter and Preliminary Working Committee member Cha Chi-ming. The guest of honour, it was said, was a certain Anson Chan Fang On-sang. To their horror and confusion, government spokesmen suddenly found themselves besieged with calls from reporters demanding to know why the Government was allowing itself to be accused of snubbing Mr Lu when there he was having dinner with Mrs Chan at that very moment. A quick call to the Chief Secretary's home on Victoria Peak soon settled the question. There she was having dinner with her mum. ONE other top secret entry in Mr Lu's diary goes a little further back. Back in fact to his last visit to Hong Kong a little over a year ago. There, we understand, it says: 'Dear diary, fed up with all this cutting Chris dead nonsense. Requested permission from HQ to set up a meeting with him and put all the bitching behind us. 'Sad to say, that bully-boy Zhou Nan put through a call to the prime minister and my old boss Ji Pengfei and had the whole thing scuppered. 'Sometimes I wonder what all my efforts on Hong Kong are really for. Sighhhh.' Makes you wonder whether someone didn't put the boot in over meeting Anson Chan this time as well. INTERESTING comparison between Mr Lu's itineraries in Hong Kong and Macau. Over the other side of the Pearl River next week, he's not only scheduled to have a 21/2-hour meeting with Governor-General Vasco Rocha Vieira, but he's planning to have dinner with him as well. Also scheduled for talks with the visiting HKMAO director are the top government officials. And there's a Lu Ping press conference at the end to ensure the Macau media get rather better access to his thoughts on all salient issues than did our colleagues here. Could this be anything to do with the extraordinarily poor relations between Portugal and China, ever since they cleared up that embarrassing little business over the critical biography of Li Peng included in a press pack for journalists accompanying Mr Rocha Vieira to Beijing. As a sample of the new Portuguese line on China we give you an extract from remarks by President Mario Soares before his recent Asian visit. 'I am an old friend of China,' he told the Portuguese news agency, Lusa. 'It has always been our viewpoint that one must have the utmost caution as far as relations with China are concerned, because China is a great world power and it is one of the great countries of this and the next century.' Ah, so that's how you get a friendly smile out of Mr Lu. MRS Chan as we must all know has to go to London to speak to British businessmen this month, which is why she can't see Mr Lu in Zhuhai. But Mr Patten's at last found a way of doing business with London without getting called names like 'offshore governor' or being accused of spending too much time out of the territory. Come the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee's next hearing on Hong Kong next month, he's going to forego the usual junket to London and speak instead via a satellite video linkup. Our sources tell us the FAC's anxious to play with Parliament's brand-new hi-tech toy and asked him to join in the game. Government House has agreed and is merely awaiting confirmation of the date, expected to be June 8. Now the Hong Kong Government is able to communicate on video and via the Internet, is there anything left to leave the territory for? Well, yes, actually. Summer holidays. Mr Patten will be in London while in transit in July. IT'S not only passengers and legislators who've been finding the new Central Ferry Pier a bit unpleasant. Reporters visiting the Central reclamation to inspect them the other day got more than just the story they bargained for. Frenzied painters gave one of the assembled group a roller-load of artistic green spots to go with his peach coloured shirt and grey trousers, much to the embarrassment of officials from the MTR, which is managing the project, and its contractor, Dragages. The reporter, having been on a few construction sites in his time, took it fairly calmly. But he says he's a bit worried how his beloved mum will react when she hears how Hong Kong painters treat a birthday present to her son. Just to keep her happy, he's planning to hand in a formal complaint this week. TALKING of colour: nice to see Legislative Councillor Lee Cheuk-yan has finally got himself a staid blue suit for Wednesday afternoon sittings. Pity about the green and light brown moccasins he was wearing with it.