THE talks this week between Britain and China have been widely welcomed in Hongkong as a sign some form of agreement may be reached on electoral arrangement for 1994-95. After a half-year of intemperate and often abusive propaganda from Beijing, the sense of relief is understandable. But let it not be so strong as to sweep away our reasonable expectations and requirements as to what course these talks should take, and what result they should achieve, if Hongkong's interests are to be well served. We must hope these talks eventually produce some acceptable answers. But for the moment, they are producing only new questions, many disturbing in nature. Here are the most important of them. Is Hongkong to be represented? The present situation seems to be cloudy. China insists the talks are between the British ambassador to Beijing and a Chinese vice-minister of foreign affairs, and it has accused Britain of ''pulling little tricks'' by releasing the names of Hongkong officials who will, according to Britain, attend the talks. There may be some sort of ''agreement to disagree'' of the kind which exists as a nod and a wink between the two parties, but which rarely finds its way into written form. By agreeing to start the talks on this basis, Britain and the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, are taking the calculated risk that China will not call into question this ''agreement to disagree'' once the talks have started, and will not make fresh attacks on the British claim that Hongkong is ''represented''. Why did China initially try to totally ban the Hongkong media from covering the talks? Yesterday's partial lifting of that ban, with the announcement that journalists will be allowed to attend photocalls in Beijing, only shows that China is still edging towards what is acceptable. As always, one has to acknowledge China's sovereign power to proceed as it wishes on its own soil. But what is there to conceal? Obviously, the negotiating sessions will be conducted in private, but why was any attempt made to deny Hongkong the opportunity to inform itself as best it can about the progress of events, and to relay such news as may or may not be available? Such a seemingly pointless and mean-spirited attempt at secrecy sits ill with the notions of ''fairness'' and ''openness'', which supposedly remain the touchstone for any electoral reform in 1994-95. It only serves to demonstrate the low value which China places on freedom of expression. If attempts are made to refuse the Hongkong media permission to cover major diplomatic meetings on matters of vital importance to Hongkong before 1997, then what kind of freedom can be expected after that date? The partial lifting of the media ban is far from enough. Instead a timetable for the talks should be published, and Chinese and British negotiators should commit themselves to the publication of a statement or communique after each session indicating what progress, if any, has been made. These steps would go a small way towards addressing the Hongkong public's legitimate interest in the talks. What is the agenda for the talks? The joint statement on April 13 gave a useful indication. But taking at face value China's invariable proposition that the ''basis'' for talks must be the Joint Declaration, convergence with the Basic Law and the so-called ''agreements and understanding'' of 1990, then we can assume the clock has been ''wound back'' to a point before the appearance of the Patten proposals in October 1992. It is not easy on that basis to work up much optimism that anything resembling the original Patten proposals will emerge from the talks, if and when a conclusion is reached. And when might a conclusion be reached? It should be reached quickly, if enabling legislation for the 1994-95 elections is to be enacted in good time, and the electoral machinery set in motion. The previous limit-date, when the Patten proposals occupied the centre of the political stage, was to have new electoral laws by July. If the talks stretch beyond this date, then China will win its battle against new reforms by default. WHAT will the British say? It depends how hard they want to argue. In theory, even on the basis for the talks outlined above, it would be right and proper for the British to argue that the Basic Law must be subordinate to the Joint Declaration; that theJoint Declaration says nothing about ''convergence'' with the Basic Law; and that, on the contrary, ''convergence'' is at odds with the ''high degree of autonomy'' which the Joint Declaration does guarantee for Hongkong. That would be one way of directing the argument towards imaginative and liberal reforms. In a more limited way, the British should use this opportunity to try to hammer out some of the problems inherent in the Basic Law; those which threaten to derail the through-train and frustrate a ''smooth transition'' however the advocates of ''convergence'' might pursue their professed goal. The problem areas here include: Article 67 of the Basic Law, which rules that no more than 20 per cent of the membership of the Legislative Council may be made up of permanent residents of the HKSAR who are not of Chinese nationality or who have the right of abode in foreign countries. The role of the ''preparatory committee'' in approving the composition of the Legislative Council in 1997. The through-train for Legco can only have a chance of working if Hongkong knows in advance how the 20 per cent rule will be enforced; and on what objective criteria the preparatory committee will base its scrutiny. Without binding clarification on those points, the way will be open for China to exclude elected members in 1997 through procedural devices and political interventions - undermining even such token democracy as it has so far allowed to take root here, and making a mockery of the Basic Law's promise (Article 68) that China's ultimate aim is the election of all members of the council by universal suffrage. In fact, Britain should be well-placed to argue strongly for this more rigorous basis for the through-train. The so-called ''seven letters'' between the British and Chinese foreign ministers in early 1990 on which China has rested so much of its case against the Patten proposals for political reform, also refer to an understanding that ''all members elected to the Legislative Council in 1995 should be able to continue in office until 1999'' and set this as the presumption on which Britain would be ''willing in principle to co-operate with the Chinese Government''. A workable agreement on the through-train should, therefore, be the least which Hongkong must expect Britain to bring back from the negotiating table. A failure on that point would suggest the talks were probably never more than a temporising device to save face on both sides. What role will Legco play? Hard to say. Until last week, it was supposedly guaranteed the final word on the Patten proposals as outlined in October and gazetted in March. Now, it awaits an outcome to talks which Mr Patten ''hopes'' will prove ''acceptable'' to the people of Hongkong. This begins to sound oddly like the terminology which accompanied the production of the Joint Declaration in 1984, for which acceptability to Hongkong was also supposedly the prime British criterion but which was presented simply on a ''take-it-or-leave-it'' basis, with no possibility of amendment by Hongkong. Frankly, it is hard to imagine China will expect any fresh deal which it may reach with Britain on 1994-95 electoral arrangements to be subject to amendment and even veto by Legco; but amendment and veto must surely be Legco's right and expectation. Britain's job will be to stand up for Hongkong, meaning in this instance standing up for Legco. Britain should make clear at the negotiating table that its notion of arrangements ''acceptable to Hongkong'' includes the debating and, if necessary, the amendment of such arrangements by the Legislative Council. It remains to be seen whether Britain will discharge this duty. Christine Loh is an appointed member of the Legislative Council.