Governor Chris Patten admitted yesterday that the 170 hours of negotiation with Beijing on his electoral reform package had been a waste of time. Mr Patten said: 'If, when it was perfectly clear that we weren't going to make any progress in our negotiations, I think it would have been much better if we had . . . got on with legislation months earlier.' Mr Patten said he hoped the future sovereign and those who governed Hong Kong would trust the community and put more emphasis on continuity. 'Open institutions are noisy, irritating, sometimes ungentlemanly, but they offer a bulwark against corruption and against the debilitating distortion of the economy by special interests,' Mr Patten told a Far Eastern Economic Review conference. The Governor hoped that in 10 or 15 years China would become a market economy. 'It is a point on which Marxists are right - that economic change does produce a political and social agenda,' he said. At the same conference the United States Consul-General called for early elections for a new legislature and asked China to respect the territory's autonomy. Richard Boucher said Washington would do 'everything in our power to preserve US interests here, so that Americans can go on contributing to and sharing in the prosperity and dynamism of this wonderful city'. Banker and legislator David Li Kwok-po said a United States law requiring Washington to monitor the territory after the handover was an insult to Beijing because China had promised Hong Kong autonomy.