Prominent pro-China politician Dorothy Liu Yiu-chu died yesterday after an illness. Liu, 62, a solicitor, died at Queen Mary Hospital at 2.50 am after suffering a blockage of the pancreas. Her son, Edward Cheng, and other family members were with her. It is understood Liu had been ill since last October and was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago. She lapsed into a coma on Saturday afternoon. Liu's friends said she met a group of journalists in her hospital ward on Friday and asked for pictures to be taken. Funeral arrangements have not been announced. Liu was educated in Hong Kong and Britain. She was appointed to China's parliament in 1982 and became one of a few to openly criticise the central Government. A spokesman for Governor Chris Patten said he was saddened by Liu's death, describing her as 'a woman of strongly held views, which she expressed with consistency'. Political debate in Hong Kong would be the poorer for her loss, said Mr Patten. Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa said he had 'the greatest respect for her character and her efforts for Hong Kong'. 'It is sad that such a patriot cannot witness the handover of Hong Kong to the motherland,' said Mr Tung. The State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and Xinhua (the New China News Agency) expressed grief at the news, saying Liu had made a major contribution to the smooth handover of Hong Kong. Tsang Yok-sing, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said Liu was one of the longest-serving territory deputies to sit in China's parliament. Mr Tsang said: 'She did a lot to bridge the gap between the Chinese Government and the Hong Kong people, especially before her relations with Beijing's officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs turned sour several years ago.' Democratic Party vice-chairman Dr Yeung Sum said Liu had earned the respect of many Hong Kong people. He said: 'Compared with other pro-China figures who are blind to Beijing's policies, her political stance was clear and consistent. Hong Kong people will remember her.' Post-handover executive councillor Tam Yiu-chung said that as a solicitor Liu had contributed a lot as a member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee. Executive Councillor Professor Edward Chen Kwan-yiu described Liu as a maverick and one of those remarkable characters of colonial history. Liu opposed China's decision to set up the provisional legislature and said the interim body needed a firm legal basis. She warned the proposal to repeal key parts of the Bill of Rights and other laws would cause unease and tarnish the image of Hong Kong overseas. But Liu was also a strong critic of the Governor's political reforms, saying they were a breach of the Basic Law. She wept at a Preliminary Working Committee meeting when she found herself seated beside former leading Hong Kong figures who accepted invitations to become China advisers.