BRITAIN should begin discussions with China immediately to restore promises set out in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Basic Law, according to a joint report of the Hongkong Journalists' Association and the London-based lobby group on press freedom, Article 19. The report is critical of both the Chinese and British governments over their failure to honour promises in the Joint Declaration, including the protection of human rights and press freedom in Hongkong. Article 19 makes regular submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the European Court of Human Rights. Titled Urgent Business: Hongkong, Freedom of Expression and 1997, the report says the Basic Law does not reflect the spirit of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in several important respects, and in some areas, arguably, was in breach of the joint accord. ''China's deliberate erosion of the Joint Declaration's promised 'high degree of autonomy' for the Special Administrative Region [SAR] is likely to have serious consequences for the protection of the rule of law and for fundamental rights and freedoms after 1997, including freedom of expression,'' the report said. ''It is therefore a matter of urgency that the British Government . . . recognises its moral responsibility to ensure that the Basic Law is in conformity with the Joint Declaration.'' Director of Article 19, Mr Frances D'Souza, warned that press freedom in Hongkong was at risk if nothing was done. ''The auguries are not good: the now familiar slogan of 'one country, two systems' has worn thin and China's real intentions, according to many observers, were revealed in the actions taken in Hongkong as well as on the mainland in the immediate aftermath of the 1989 massacre,'' he said. ''It is clear there has been an absence of commitment on the part of the UK in confronting China with the need to protect human rights. ''The policy of convergence has led to the ceding of the National People's Congress of the right to final adjudication and interpretation on all constitutional matters as from July 1, 1997 in contravention of the Joint Declaration. ''The dangerous inconsistencies between what is to be the new constitution, the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights could be exploited in this context allowing China to impose its own restrictive perception of freedom of expression on Hongkong. ''Grave concerns are put forward about the array of repressive colonial laws which have been used to suppress freedom of expression and which imperil the exercise of this right after 1997. We argue for their repeal or amendment.'' Noting there were those who continue to believe that confronting China would bring no good, he said the alternative was to hope China would allow Hongkong citizens the freedoms it denied its own people. The report also suggested that a number of Basic Law articles required urgent attention, such as the introduction of full democracy.