CHINA has banned Hong Kong members of two human rights groups from attending the international finance conferences. The non-governmental organisations, Hong Kong's Human Rights Monitor and the New York-based Human Rights in China, were refused accreditation for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings. The bans raise questions about the SAR's autonomy from China as it attempts to use the high-powered conferences to show the world little has changed in Hong Kong since the handover. Chinese authorities were believed to have felt it was inappropriate to have human rights groups at a meeting about economic development, World Bank official John Clark said. But China had been invited to reconsider its decision before the meetings opened on Tuesday, Mr Clark said. More than 14,000 delegates from 180 countries are expected to attend the World Bank-IMF meetings. The human rights bodies are believed to be the only two organisations which failed to gain permission to attend the events. Some 60 non-governmental organisations, including 12 from Hong Kong, applied. Their applications were referred to Chinese authorities by the World Bank and IMF secretariat. Human Rights in China, a group founded by exiled dissidents, had been planning to send Hong Kong-based representative Sophia Woodman. 'To allow governments to exclude NGOs because they don't like what they say is very troubling,' Ms Woodman said. The organisation was interested in the World Bank's operations in China. Mr Clark said the World Bank had told Chinese authorities it was familiar with the group and felt it would not be disruptive at the meetings. Human Rights Monitor, which mainly speaks out about civil liberties issues in Hong Kong, had applied to accredit 17 people, he said. 'It does seem like a very big group. Perhaps the authorities thought they were coming in force to make some sort of political statement,' Mr Clark said. Group director Law Yuk-kai said there had been no response to its application. The group wanted to discuss a World Bank report on a handbook about laws affecting NGOs, which it believed was inappropriate. Mr Clark said a large meeting of NGOs in Africa had recently called for the body to step up its work on guidelines about NGO laws.