XU Jiatun, China's former top envoy to Hongkong who fled to the United States after the June 4 crackdown, will not face persecution if he returns to the mainland, according to a leading journalist. Hu Jiwei, formerly head of the People's Daily, gave the assurance when he met Mr Xu during an informal gathering with visiting scholars recently in Minnesota. Mr Xu began serialising his memoirs in the Taiwan-based United Daily News last month. Keeping a low profile during his stay in Minnesota, the West Coast-based former New China News Agency boss chatted with friends and scholars about his previous work in Jiangsu province, mainland development and his future plans. Mr Xu was told by friends that Politburo Standing Committee member Li Ruihuan had relayed a message to another dissident, Qin Jiaju, now in the US, that he was welcome to go back and ''have a look around Beijing''. Mr Qin, an outspoken critic of the communist regime, has said he had applied for a multiple entry visa between Hongkong and Shenzhen. Hu told Mr Xu: ''[You] can go back. There won't be any problem.'' However, Mr Xu reiterated that he could not and did not want to return to the mainland as long as Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng were still in power. He said his serialised memoirs had not yet caused any strong reaction on the mainland because not many had read the articles. Talking about the communist Government's handling of the June 4 suppression, Mr Xu said he would never forget some of the episodes of the student-led unrest. Saying he had intimate knowledge on the operation of mainland-funded firms in Hongkong, Mr Xu said: ''If they [the Beijing leadership] allow me, I want to go to do business in Hongkong.'' But he said he had no immediate plan to visit Hongkong. ''If I go to Hongkong now Beijing will certainly not feel happy and the British side will feel embarrassed. I don't want to create trouble,'' Mr Xu said. Both Mr Xu and Hu shared the view that there was no place for drastic reforms on the mainland. The Chinese Communist Party was an enormous political entity which could not be replaced by any political forces, they said. It was not only the wish of the Chinese people to avoid turmoil in China but the whole world, they said.