CHINA yesterday officially formed the working panel that will set up Hongkong's first post-1997 government, but allowed six months for members to prepare a detailed blueprint before putting the plan into effect. The delay is seen as a move to allow enough time for Chinese and British negotiators to reach a deal on the 1994/95 electoral arrangements - talks for which enter a critical stage in September. Officials have said a Sino-British accord will mean China not having to go its own way by setting up a shadow administration or ''second stove''. The timetable for the 57-member working panel, officially called the Preliminary Working Committee for the Special Administrative Region (SAR) Preparatory Committee, was spelled out by chairman Qian Qichen at its inaugural meeting in Beijing yesterday. Under the timetable, five sub-groups will meet in the next few months to finalise the agenda before the second plenary session in December. According to Mr Qian, only after the entire blueprint is approved at the December plenum will work begin next year. This is despite remarks by Mr Qian and National People's Congress (NPC) chairman Qiao Shi that time to prepare for the handover was running short. In his opening address in the Great Hall of the People, Mr Qian said the panel would study and make suggestions to the SAR Preparatory Committee on the formation of the first SAR government and legislature. Mr Qian, also China's Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister, revealed that the working panel would be dissolved as soon as the Preparatory Committee was set up in 1996. ''Therefore, the working panel is neither the 'second nucleus of power' nor the 'shadow cabinet','' he said. Mr Qian said that, giving an official name to the body, would help dispel speculation about its role. ''Although the official name is too long, it is more accurate.'' In his speech, Mr Qian said that, among the major tasks the panel would tackle was the handling of existing laws that contradicted the Basic Law. Its other work includes the promotion of the Basic Law in Hongkong and issues that straddle 1997 and affect the territory. The body, which includes 30 Hongkong members, was launched after a photo session attended by senior Chinese leaders, including President and Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin. Others were Executive Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji; chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihua; Vice-State President Rong Yiren and Mr Qiao. Mr Jiang said Hongkong had entered a new phase of transition with the setting up of the working panel. ''In the future, the preparatory work of the SAR government will follow the Basic Law and the decision made by the NPC.'' The inauguration ceremony was carried as the main story on last night's Central Television news.