CHINA'S opposition to Hong Kong attending the landmark meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) heads of state in Seattle in November is threatening the territory's standing as a separate legal jurisdiction in the eyes of the world investment community, says Executive Councillor Edward Chen Kwan-yiu. Mr Chen told international business and political leaders attending the Pacific Rim Forum in Bali yesterday it was crucial that Hong Kong's administrative independence should be seen to be maintained. The November meeting is intended as a forum to decide whether to promote APEC to community status from its current talking-shop co-operation level. China has demanded that Hong Kong and Taiwan be banned from the heads of state meeting proposed by US President Bill Clinton even though Hong Kong has taken an active part in APEC since it was formed in 1989. Hong Kong has contributed 2.75 per cent of APEC's budget this year and is believed to consider itself a full and equal member of the forum. Assistant US Trade Representative Nancy Adams said she was confident Hong Kong would be able to attend the meeting at some level and an amicable solution would be found. She said the US would not be drawn into making a policy stance on the issue. Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Gareth Evans said it would not be easy for a leaders' meeting to be staged without Hong Kong and Taiwan attending on an equal footing. The Joint Declaration signed between Britain and China in 1984 paved the way for one country, two systems for China and Hong Kong after 1997. Mr Chen, who yesterday chaired a geo-strategic focus group meeting on Hong Kong post-1997, questioned whether this would turn out to be the case following China's stance on the APEC heads of state meeting. ''Politically it now seems very difficult to expect that, particularly after the Tiananmen Square incident, China will allow Hong Kong to move much more rapidly in constitutional development in democracy,'' he said. ''This has been drawn out by its strong objection to Governor Chris Patten's proposal of constitutional reform. ''With Hong Kong being regarded in some way as a subversive ground, it is very difficult to expect there will be truly one country, two systems with a different and more democratic government in Hong Kong. ''However, if Hong Kong could preserve its different administrative system to China's, then maybe this would be sufficient to guarantee Hong Kong's future prosperity. ''The question of two systems is really two administrative systems and whether Hong Kong will be able to retain its efficient bureaucracy - its efficient and effective and non-corrupt government machinery. ''What we talk about the two systems in the economic arena, the two systems are in fact the two legal systems - whether Hong Kong is able to retain its independent jurisdiction in terms of trade, investment and our membership in regional organisations. ''For example, when it comes to President Clinton's idea of Seattle summit [of APEC leaders] in November the question is whether Hong Kong can become a separate jurisdiction and a separate customs area to be represented. ''It is crucial to Hong Kong's success that it should be treated as a separate independent jurisdiction by the world investment community.'' ''When we talk about two systems, these are the two systems we want to preserve.'' One of the original intentions of the banner of two systems was that China would go on practising socialism while Hong Kong would retain capitalism. ''Today this is not a worry at all,'' said Mr Chen, director of the Centre of Asian Studies at Hong Kong University. ''I would regard China as more capitalistic than Hong Kong.'' Making money for socialism is in fact actually the highest form of capitalism in China. ''Therefore, our concern is not the convergence of capitalism and socialism. It is already converged.''