RACE is the most complex and sensitive of subjects. I touch upon it with hesitation. My intention is to make a single point; one, I believe, of great importance to Hongkong. That point is: we must keep race and politics separate. We must not politicise race. We must not racialise our politics. If we do so, we create a volatile mixture which may easily explode in our faces. It may not be easy to resist the temptations of racial chauvinism, especially when we are so soon to close a chapter of history which was often written in deeply racial terms. But at the very least, public figures should be capable of setting an example rather better than that of Mr David Chu, one of China's ''advisers'', in the South China Morning Post of March 29. Commenting on the choice of Sir David Akers-Jones to join the second group of Hongkong advisers to Beijing. Mr Chu said: ''There are many Hongkong people who, after years of Western influence, don't feel they are Chinese and don't have a good feeling of being Chinese race. For example, Christine Loh is probably less Chinese than Sir David.'' One of my first reactions on reading these sentences was to hope that Sir David Akers-Jones would wish to dissociate himself publicly from Mr Chu's sentiments. However, since Sir David has not to my knowledge done so, and since I do not wish it to be thought that Mr Chu's views may be considered ''fair comment'', I want to put my own response on record. In a literal sense, Mr Chu's remarks are absurd. In a political context, they are dangerously misleading. Mr Chu argues, in effect, that some ideas and beliefs can be categorised as ''Chinese'' or ''not Chinese'', and that the people who hold them can be categorised as ''more Chinese'' or ''less Chinese'' in consequence. Mr Chu chooses ''Sir David Akers-Jones'' and ''Christine Loh'' as examples of people who have become ''more Chinese'' and ''less Chinese'' respectively. Is it, perhaps, Sir David's conservatism, his support for ''convergence'' and his opposition to rapiddemocratisation of Hongkong which Mr Chu wishes to endorse as properly ''Chinese''? And is it, my own liberalism, my opposition to one-sided ''convergence'' and my support for rapid democratisation which are being deprecated as not properly ''Chinese''? The personal rudeness and intellectual vulgarity inherent in such an approach should require no further comment. Unfortunately, in the circumstances, comment is essential. If one were to do Mr Chu the favour of presuming that, when he said ''race'', he meant, in fact, ''culture'', then his comments would become no less rude, but slightly more rational. My reply would be that my culture is the culture of Hongkong. I am proud that it should be so. The social, economic and political culture of Hongkong differs from that of mainland China, not least because Hongkong has spent the post-war years evolving according to the principles of liberal capitalism, and not those of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. I presume that the Chinese Government wants Hongkong culture to survive and flourish as a distinct entity, since it repeatedly insists upon a commitment to preserve that culture through the mechanism of ''one country, two systems'' for at least 50 years after 1997, and probably much longer. IF Mr Chu believes that Hongkong culture should nonetheless yield to whatever he might define as ''Chinese'' culture, then he is arguing that Deng Xiaoping's concept of ''one country, two systems'' is misguided. I hope Mr Chu reflects a little more rigorously before giving any formal ''advice'' to China along these lines in his honorary capacity. I fear, however, that Mr Chu is referring to ''race'' and not ''culture''. He is trying to use the force of racial chauvinism, from which Hongkong is not exempt, to serve his politics. He is seeking to appropriate conservatism as an obligatory ''Chinese'' value and to associate liberalism and democracy with a surrender to ''Westerners''. Worse, he is seeking to do so at a time of decolonisation, when feelings of patriotism and racial identity will be particularly strong, and when it will be perilously easy for those with neither foresight nor scruples to arouse hostility and of superiority towards whatever may be labelled as ''Western'' ideas and influences. But ideas have no race. They belong to humanity. I do not know if Mr Chu would say that Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai were ''less Chinese'' for having themselves embraced one of the most powerful of all ''Western influences'', that of communism. Logically, he ought to think so, though common sense might hold him back. But the point, surely, is that the political and intellectual traditions of all societies and nations are living things. They adapt, they absorb, they change. When we test or debate an idea in Hongkong, the criterion should not be: ''Is it 'Chinese'?'' The criterion should be: ''Does it work for Hongkong?'' Inevitably, as Britain withdraws, there will be a reaction against anything deemed to be ''colonialist'', a label with obvious racial resonances. This could be the case when dealing with issues of nationality and the ethnic minorities, and localisation. But our concern should be with the future of Hongkong, not the past. In that regard, I do not know if the ''advisers'' consider their appointment to confer upon them responsibilities to Hongkong, or only to China. If they do claim a responsibility to Hongkong, then it is surely their duty to discourage, rather than to propagate, a racial rhetoric which can only inflame political debate. If Mr Chu does not like my or anybody else's ideas about democracy, or ''convergence'', or liberalism, then he should say so. But to couch such an attack in racial terms is to encourage a general regression from the realm of ideas to that of abuse.