FEARS of protests from China have delayed the introduction of a more liberal public order law. Security Branch officials wanted to hurry overdue changes to the draconian Public Order Ordinance into the Legislative Council this session, but Governor Chris Patten intervened to avoid complaints from China that it not been informed, senior government sources said. They said Mr Patten wanted to take no risks in damaging Sino-British talks, particularly after China objected to another law in May despite extensive briefings months before. ''We didn't want to do anything to raise the heat, particularly at the moment,'' one source said. Copies of the proposed bill will be handed to New China News Agency officials before its publication in Hongkong when the council reconvenes in October. At the least, China is expected to accuse Britain of further undermining its post-1997 position while extending its colonial influence. The drafts - more liberal than thought - will make it easier to stage protests and demonstrations and drastically weaken the powers of the Police Commissioner in suppressing uprisings. However, the South China Morning Post understands the Government will stand firm on its line that the liberalisation of the ordinance is needed to bring Hongkong in line with international standards and the Bill of Rights. Changes would be considered only under ''extreme pressure'' from China. ''Essentially it's motivated by political courtesy and sensitivity. We certainly don't anticipate being forced into changes but this cannot be ruled out,'' one source said. ''These changes have been necessary for a long, long time but it's clear China won't like them. ''This will galvanise people's rights to protest against China - that's how it will be perceived.'' The Government wants to avoid the sort of embarrassing attacks faced when the Legislative Council approved the Boundary and Election Commission Bill in May. Just as the third round of talks was getting underway, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wu Jianmin said Beijing was ''surprised'' that such an invalid bill had been used as a ''disruption and disturbance to the negotiations''. In that case, China had been briefed since January. Sources said the public order bill could have been introduced any time since January, but political considerations had come to the fore in recent months. Earlier delays were due to the need to ensure parity with the Bill of Rights and ease police anger at their loss of powers, while finding a balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the state. Crucial to both points is the removal of provisions allowing the Police Commissioner to refuse or amend a licence for a public procession without giving a reason. Any applicant will have the right of public appeal to the Governor or head of the post-1997 administration. Other changes include: Increases in the ceiling on the number of people allowed to gather publicly without notifying police from 30 to 50, or 200 on private premises. Free use of loud-hailers and sound amplification equipment. Easing of the licence procedure.