Key Hong Kong officials have been excluded from a high-profile business conference being staged next month by the Better Hong Kong Foundation and the Trade Development Council. The get-together will be hosted by the Trade Development Council and the Better Hong Kong Foundation. Senior Chinese official Lu Ping will give the keynote speech while China's top envoy in the territory, Zhou Nan , is to open the conference, which will discuss how Hong Kong should prepare for the handover. Governor Chris Patten, Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam Chi-kong have not been invited, nor have local bankers. Henry Cheng Kar-shun, chairman of the Better Hong Kong Foundation's advisory council and managing director of New World Development, said: 'The China and Hong Kong markets are closely linked. The most direct and effective way to discover more about them is to invite mainland officials to the conference.' The foundation was set up last year 'to promote financial and economic confidence in Hong Kong'. It counts among its members some of the territory's wealthiest tycoons. It drew controversy last month when its chief executive, Leonie Ki Man-fung, told a US newspaper Hong Kong had not heard the word democracy until Mr Patten arrived. She said yesterday that mainland officials could help boost investor confidence by reaffirming Beijing's 'one country, two systems' policy. Dennis Yau Tat-wang, TDC deputy executive director, said that inviting Hong Kong officials to speak would have meant repeating events at a symposium which took place this month. That symposium, organised by the Government, was aimed at promoting Hong Kong's services sector in the wake of Budget moves to strengthen industry. TDC executive director Michael Sze Cho-cheung, the former Secretary for Civil Service, said the conference was aimed at increasing international awareness of Hong Kong's role as an international hub. Mr Yau said 14 business leaders from Hong Kong, the US, Japan and Europe would speak on the territory's future.