When it comes to being first with mainland news, local hacks can't hold a candle to Xinhua. The China News Service was the first agency to break the news that China and the US had concluded their bilateral WTO market access agreement. But the signing time it mentioned was much earlier than the official ceremony. 'The United States and China signed an agreement on Beijing's entry into the World Trade Organisation on Monday, at the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation at 1.30pm after six days of tense, difficult negotiations', it said in a 1.40pm report. 'China's WTO entry bid has taken a crucial step,' the news brief added. But a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation denied the report immediately, and said talks with the US on entry into the WTO were still under way on Monday afternoon. 'We don't know where the China News Service report came from,' the spokesman said. Many local and foreign journalists waiting desperately outside the building thought they had missed the signing ceremony. It actually took place after 3.30pm, when, as the world now knows, US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and senior White House aide Gene Sperling attended for the US and Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng and chief WTO negotiator Long Yongtu did the honours for China. Discussions went off at something of a tangent when the Frontier party met Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to talk about the Disney project earlier this week. Frontier members think the whole deal has been arrived at far too quickly, and they took that as a starting point to tell the bow-tied one that they didn't approve of any of the other hasty undercover decisions taken by the administration in recent months. The group obviously touched a sore spot by mentioning the stock market intervention as an example of their concerns. Mr Tsang is rather proud of the way that little panic measure turned out, and he's equally testy about the Cyper-Port giveaway. So he rounded on his critics and told them he had a far better feel for what the public needed than they had. Perhaps it wasn't the most tactful remark to make to one of Hong Kong's best known politicians. She - Emily Lau Wai-hing, that is - loftily informed Mr Tsang that she was the one there by popular mandate. Where was his, she asked? And furthermore, if he stood in the election she would beat him hands down. Of course that rather depends on whether the Tracker fund is rising or falling at the time. Despite the money and effort being spent on improving the spin on government activities, Tung Chee-hwa acknowledged on Wednesday that he still has a problem in getting his message across. Mr Tung admitted that the issue of Hong Kong's image and the possibilities of improved public relations were raised in the second meeting of his blue-ribbon panel of international consultants yesterday. The Chief Executive was the first to admit his 'poor storytelling skills', though why he should take the blame when he has the highest paid spin doctor in politics, is another mystery. 'There are so many good stories in and about Hong Kong,' he said. 'Yet I can't put them over to the media in a proper manner.' The pundits met on the picturesque campus of the University of Science and Technology. But even in those green acres at Sai Kung, the group still faulted environmental degradation here, citing poor air quality as a major drawback to progress. And there's no publicist in the world who can put a good spin on that.