THE wife of a prominent Chinese dissident has warned that human rights in China will suffer a setback if Beijing fails to win the right to host the 2000 Olympics. Speaking just before her departure from Hong Kong for Copenhagen yesterday, Hou Xiatian said that although China appeared to have adopted a more flexible attitude recently, such improvements could go down the drain if Beijing failed in its Olympic bid. ''If it fails to host the 2000 Olympics, China's human rights conditions will go backwards in a short period of time,'' warned Ms Hou, whose husband Wang Juntao is serving a 13-year sentence in a Beijing prison hospital. Ms Hou also reiterated her belief that her husband was unlikely to be freed in the near future. She pointed out that human rights in China remained poor and it was important for Western Governments to keep up pressure on Beijing to improve the situation. ''I think [Wang will be released] when China faces another round of international pressure,'' she said. Ms Hou will meet relatives in Denmark before travelling to the United States to lobby for support for Wang's early release.