Governor Chris Patten said yesterday it would take 'spectacularly malign incompetence' on China's part if it were to damage Hong Kong after 1997. Speaking on BBC Television's Breakfast With Frost programme, he said: 'I think that the future in Hong Kong, as elsewhere, lies with those who can combine political freedom, democratic development and economic freedom.' Mr Patten added that Martin Lee Chu-ming and other democrats would play 'a central role' in the future of the territory. Mr Patten is in Britain for talks with ministers and officials, and to attend an investment conference in Edinburgh. He said he thought there would be 'a happy ending' for Hong Kong. 'It is a very happy and successful city and it would take spectacularly malign incompetence to screw it up.' Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen's recent comments on Hong Kong post-handover 'make one a bit worried about how much the Chinese understand about these things and make it imperative that we stand up for them [the Hong Kong people].' Asked what Britain could do if China carried out Mr Qian's threats and banned, for instance, demonstrations marking the anniversary of Tiananmen Square, he replied: 'I think that senior Chinese leaders know very well that the way Beijing handles Hong Kong and what happens in Hong Kong - whether Hong Kong continues to be a free society - is going to be regarded by the rest of the world as a kind of litmus test for how China is going to behave on the international stage. 'And if China appears to be breaking its word on the Joint Declaration, people will ask themselves: 'What can we trust China on?' and Britain will, as the Prime Minister said last March, obviously have an important job in focusing attention on what's happening in Hong Kong.' Mr Patten also took up the repeated objections of former Downing Street foreign policy adviser Sir Percy Cradock to his democracy reforms. He said Sir Percy's real objection was not to his approach, but the fact that 'we have a bottom line' in negotiations with China. 'And I think Sir Percy's view is that ultimately you have to do whatever China wants, that you shouldn't stand up for the people of Hong Kong. 'He doesn't, I think, think about Hong Kong as being full of flesh-and-blood people, full of six million very talented and energetic people to whom we have made promises and to whom Margaret Thatcher and others have made promises.'