THE Hong Kong Government took the lead in defining, and refining, the proposals which British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind announced after his talks with his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen, in London last week, Mr Rifkind says in an article in today's Sunday Morning Post. He was clearly answering suggestions Governor Chris Patten had been bypassed in London's discussions with the Chinese authorities on Hong Kong. 'A few commentators have tried to suggest the results were cooked up in London, and served up without Hong Kong having seen a sight of the menu,' he adds. 'They are wide of the mark. On Hong Kong issues, policy-makers in Whitehall and on the Upper and Lower Albert roads work as a single team.' Mr Rifkind says the talks enabled the two sides to 'reach useful agreements for Hong Kong rather than a sterile exchange of well-known positions'. Mr Qian was urged yesterday not to scrap Hong Kong's new democracy by the Irish Government. Foreign Minister Dick Spring told Mr Qian, on the final stage of his European tour, that the territory had a very important role to play in the region. 'What is important is the transition should be smooth and democracy as we have seen it in Hong Kong should be enhanced,' Mr Spring said after 90 minutes of talks with Mr Qian in Dublin. Mr Qian was clearly irritated by the presence of up to 40 protesters outside the Foreign Ministry as he arrived after a meeting with President Mary Robinson. Groups including Amnesty International and Greenpeace made a noisy protest over political prisoners and Chinese nuclear testing, in the biggest demonstration of Mr Qian's tour. Some observers believed part of Mr Qian's agenda last week was intended to test European Union opinion on Taiwan following the growing links between the US and Taipei. Mr Qian returns to Dublin today for talks with Prime Minister John Bruton.