THE Hong Kong Commissioner in London, Sir David Ford, said the territory's economic and trade missions overseas would have to foster links with China's diplomatic offices. Sir David said Beijing need not worry about such links so long as Hong Kong's overseas offices stuck to their role of economic and trade promotion as laid down in the Basic Law. He said they had provided information to the Chinese Embassy in London on 'what we're up to'. 'It's important to establish good relations so that we are comfortable with each others' work,' Sir David told the South China Morning Post. The former chief secretary, however, admitted that it would not be possible for them to maintain a strict trade portfolio. He said: 'We can't simply refuse to answer questions about what life is like in Hong Kong. Certainly, we've got to have a tacit understanding with each other.' Sir David said his main concern was to oversee changes of the role of the London mission while ensuring it did not affect morale. The office, which had more than 110 staff at its peak, was cut to 64 last year and will be further reduced to 25 by the time Sir David retires later this year. Sir David said it was not an easy process, noting the office had taken a high profile in the past on a range of activities such as lobbying MPs and liaison with Hong Kong students and the Chinese community. Article 156 of the Basic Law says the Special Administrative Region can establish official or semi-official economic and trade missions in foreign countries. The SAR should report the establishment of such missions to the central Government for the record.