WITH a humorous sideswipe at former prime ministerial adviser Sir Percy Cradock, Governor Mr Chris Patten laughed off suggestions that the success of his visit to Washington was causing embarrassment at the Foreign Office. He also dismissed as ''absurd'' the suggestion he was internationalising the Hongkong debate. He repeated his claim to have brought home to the American leadership the notion that the development of democracy in the territory was a matter for Britain andChina. ''If this is embarrassment, give me more of it,'' said the Governor when asked about a report in The Times. It said the Foreign Office was unhappy with US President Mr Bill Clinton's outspoken support for his democracy package. ''I cannot believe that there is really, even in the deepest basements of the Foreign Office, a diplomat who could take the point of view which has been ascribed to it,'' he said, adding in an unmistakable reference to Sir Percy, ''although it is conceivable that there may be the odd retired diplomat who may have said that in the bar of the Travellers Club.'' The former Foreign Office Sinologist has been outspoken in his opposition to Mr Patten's constitutional proposals. Mr Patten stressed again the need to put across Hongkong's free trade message while the Clinton administration was formulating policies on China's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trading status. He started the day with a visit to the influential Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Tom Foley, followed by a call on the powerful National Economic Adviser, Mr Robert Rubin, and lunch with officials from the respected Brookings Institution. Mr Patten also held talks with both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Sub-committee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Committee members' views reflected the sharp divisions within Congress on the thorny MFN issue. Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Mr Gary Ackerman said he did not think the US should allow the debate to dominate the administration's entire policy towards China. But right-wing Republican Mr Dana Rohrabacher warned that the US must not trust ''red China''. ''What we have from Beijing are lies, tyranny and bloodshed,'' he said. He added that it should not be business as usual with ''dictators who've committed genocide in Tibet''. Even those who argued against MFN renewal said Mr Patten had ''made a difference'' to views in the capital. It is understood the administration will not make up its mind on MFN for a few weeks. Many Congressmen said they expected Mr Clinton to opt for conditional renewal under his own executive power rather than leave it to Congress to force it on him. However, the severity of the conditions and the inclusion of a clause making Chinese adhere to the Joint Declaration were open to question.