AN attempt by China last Friday to attach additional requirements to the terms of announcement for resuming Sino-British talks had led to the Government's decision to gazette the 1994/95 electoral bill, according to sources close to the British side. The sources said China had agreed to the draft terms of an announcement on Thursday morning which contained no reference to the status of Hongkong officials in the British negotiating team, but did provide a rough date on which negotiations were to resume. The draft also specified that the talks would be on the 1994/95 electoral arrangements and would proceed on the basis of the three accords - the Joint Declaration, convergence with the Basic Law, and previous agreements and understandings reached betweenthe two sides. But on Friday, China had sought to add a stipulation to the draft agreement, which Britain thought it had secured for enabling the resumption of talks. China wanted to specify that apart from Sir Robin McLaren, the British ambassador to China, all other British and Hongkong officials would participate only as experts or advisers. When asked yesterday about the British side's claim that China had back-pedalled, or shifted the goal posts, the deputy director of the Chinese State Council's Hongkong and Macau Affairs Office, Mr Chen Ziying, said China had all along hoped to deal withthe issue with flexibility. But Mr Chen insisted that China had never accepted that Hongkong officials could become full members of the British team. Beijing had always said negotiations were between the two sovereign powers, and Sir Robin must be absolutely clear about that. The sources said that on Friday, China had also refused to give a date for the announcement of talks, not even agreeing to give a rough date on which talks could resume. The British side wanted to avoid specifying the status of Hongkong officials in the negotiating team in the announcement, to get around the obstacle which persistently came up during contacts between the two sides. It is understood that the Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister, Mr Jiang Enzhu, had indicated to Sir Robin on Thursday that China had no objection to the draft terms of the announcement. The Chinese side's response was sent to Hongkong at noon and this was interpreted by the British side as offering a real prospect for talks. The Governor, Mr Chris Patten, later in the day, postponed a scheduled Legislative Council question time session at which he was to announce the gazetting of the reform bill. Mr Patten and the Executive Council met to consider how to reply to China's response, and it was decided that the bottom line for Hongkong was that there must be a date of announcement as well as a date for the talks. The councillors also agreed that whether subsequent rounds of talks should be held in secret would be left for discussion in the first round of talks. The Executive Council also resolved that there could be no discrimination between Hongkong and British members of the negotiating team. To avoid inflaming Chinese sensitivities, the council decided it could accept an arrangement under which each team would comprise a single member - Sir Robin and Mr Jiang - and that each would be supported by a team of officials. Exco agreed that no title should be attached to these teams, and when asked in the public, the two sides would refer to them as the team offering advice and expertise. But if the British side was asked in public about the status of Hongkong officials, it would want to say that Hongkong and British members held equal status. The councillors wanted China's assurance that even though they might not publicly support such a statement by the British side, Beijing would at least not contradict such statement. To ensure there was no misunderstanding on such a position, the council decided to ask Sir Robin to clarify this with Mr Jiang. The ambassador failed to secure such an assurance, and on Friday, China wanted to add to the draft text a specific reference that Hongkong officials were only to sit in as advisers and experts. As this contravened the council's stated position, Mr Patten authorised the draft bills to be gazetted at 3 pm.