CHINA should take a softer approach to the Democratic Party, a former Xinhua official suggested yesterday. Wong Man-fong, a former Xinhua (New China News Agency) deputy secretary-general in Hong Kong, warned the territory would be unstable in the run-up to 1997 if a Draconian approach was adopted with the Democrats. Mr Wong is now a consultant and columnist. The Democrats he knew were not all radicals intent on confrontation with China. 'Hong Kong people need the Democrats to stand up for their interests, although they equally want the pro-China camps to communicate with China,' he said. He told a Lions' Club lunch China should adopt a lenient policy, not only towards the Democrats, but also to the territory to win people's hearts and minds. He did not think the deadlock between the Democrats and China could be relaxed simply by de-linking the Democrats with the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China. And he suggested uncertainty would be intensified as drastic changes happened - the setting up of the Preparatory Committee early next year, the Selection Committee, and the appointment of the chief executive and team designate of the Special Administrative Region. Mr Wong also cast doubt on the fairness of the Selection Committee's future composition. 'Do you think it would be fairer for a 400-member Selection Committee to choose the chief executive or a Legislative Council voted for by 900,000 people?'