A dispatch from Xinhua (the New China News Agency) at 10.51 pm on Sunday triggered the latest row between China and Britain. A phone-call from Government Information Services headquarters in the Murray Road Car Park Building alerted Governor Chris Patten's spokesman to a potential problem. Secretary for Security Peter Lai Hing-ling, Director of Immigration Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and other top policy secretaries were among those Mr Patten called to a special meeting at Government House. It was decided the Government should give as many details as possible to remove uncertainty over how to acquire and retain permanent residency status. 'Once [China] revealed its stance, we were obliged to lay all our cards on the table,' said a source. Preparation for distribution of the prepared booklet on right of abode began as Mr Lai and Mrs Ip started a day of briefings to legislators and the media. At about the same time, Chinese leader of the Joint Liaison Group Zhao Jihua asked for a meeting with British counterpart Hugh Davies. Sources said the two sides at the JLG had been deadlocked for three months over who should legislate on right of abode. One claimed Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang had stated the British position to Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Director Lu Ping during her recent visit to Beijing. Another source said the best option was for the two sides to reach an agreement and table it to the Legislative Council for approval before July 1. After China refused to agree, Britain suggested issuing a White Bill for public consultation and leaving the legislative process to be completed on July 1. 'We accept everything with the only exception that it cannot be legislated by the provisional legislature before July 1.' The source said China had laid down the legislative role of the interim body as a 'pre-condition' for talks on other outstanding issues. 'Every government has its own principles. If we can accept that, we will have no bottom line at all,' he said.