Governor Chris Patten yesterday described Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen's recent remarks on limiting freedom of expression and assembly as 'wholly at odds' with the Joint Declaration. Leaving for Britain last night for regular duty visits, Mr Patten said he would talk to Prime Minister John Major and Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind next week about Mr Qian's statement. Mr Qian told the Asian Wall Street Journal this week that June 4 protests and personal attacks against Chinese leaders would not be allowed after the handover. The Chinese Foreign Ministry later claimed Mr Qian had been misinterpreted. But Mr Patten said Mr Qian's remarks appeared to be deliberate. 'They were, I think, issued as a translation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself. So I don't think there can be any suggestion that somehow the newspaper in question garbled the remarks in translation,' he said. Mr Patten said the remarks were unsettling and appeared 'wholly at odds' with the Joint Declaration. 'There is a difference between the rule of law and rule by man. There is a difference between the rule of law on the one hand, and rules and laws on the other,' he said. Mr Patten said that while he had been Governor, the June 4 vigils had taken place with great dignity, responsibility and restraint, and that the community was concerned and unsettled by Mr Qian's remarks. 'It's not the first time a remark like this has been made in recent months. And perhaps if this is a reflection of the mind set, the attitude among senior Chinese officials, perhaps it's better that we find that out now and I hope we can do something about it rather than discover it a little later,' he said. He said the British Government had taken up concern at a 'high level'. 'The reassurance has to come from Chinese officials,' Mr Patten said. Independent legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai yesterday wrote to Mr Qian, urging him to consider Hong Kong people's views on freedom of expression.