How were Hong Kong members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference chosen? This question was partly answered by CPPCC head Li Ruihuan , when he attended a meeting of the Hong Kong members in Beijing last Saturday. Mr Li told the Hong Kong members that their names had been proposed by the United Front Department and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing, as well as the Hong Kong branch of Xinhua and the SAR Government. The final list was decided by the leadership of the CPPCC after consultation with Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and the head of Xinhua's Hong Kong branch, Jiang Enzhu. Mr Li admitted there had been no clear rules of selection. He mentioned, however, that some old members had been re-appointed because they had 'supported China in the prolonged struggle with the British Hong Kong Government, and made significant contributions for Hong Kong's return to China'. This revelation reminds people of the role the Chinese Government used to expect of Hong Kong CPPCC members in pre-handover days, when a continuous war of words was waged between Beijing and London on transition affairs in Hong Kong. In each of the past five years the Premier's annual report to the National People's Congress contained a paragraph on Hong Kong's awaited reunification with China. Invariably the British were warned not to make trouble for the transition, with the sternness of the warning depending on the temperature of the Sino-British row. Debating the Premier's report is a main item on the agenda of the CPPCC. Naturally, the part on the 'struggle with the British Hong Kong Government' always attracted the most attention in the Hong Kong sub-group. Members spoke freely on Hong Kong affairs, voicing strong views on controversial issues and pointing fingers at the British. In those years, Hong Kong members never bothered about possible accusations of their 'inviting interference from the Chinese Government' by taking Hong Kong problems to Beijing. Curiously enough, such accusations were seldom heard then. CPPCC members were all expected to be 'pro-China' in any political dispute, and nobody was surprised at their salvos against the British. The situation is entirely different now the British have left. Britain was not mentioned at all in the Premier's report this year. Instead, the Premier stressed the success of the 'one country, two systems' policy and re-affirmed Beijing's confidence in leaving Hong Kong affairs to the SAR Government. Accordingly, Hong Kong CPPCC members should take up a new role. Many new members have never been vocal critics of the former British administration. In fact, the majority are businessmen who had seldom been seen to be involved in Hong Kong politics before the handover. They have been appointed mainly because of the strong ties they have established in the mainland through their business investments. Others are appreciated for their professional contributions. They are academics, lawyers, accountants, engineers, architects, physicians, and artists who have helped China's modernisation and reform by advising government departments, organising training courses, and providing professional services. These personalities meet in Beijing to talk about China's national policies and reform programmes. Hong Kong issues have no place in the CPPCC agenda. It may be difficult, however, for some of the old members to adapt to their new role. Throughout the past years they have grown accustomed to using the Beijing meeting as a venue for exposing various kinds of British conspiracies against China and Hong Kong.