AS Sino-British negotiations teeter on the brink of collapse, some of us are bracing ourselves for disappointment and anger resulting from a massive backdown by the British Government. Next week Mr Patten will go to London for meetings with Prime Minister John Major and Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd. While the Hong Kong people are repeatedly fed propaganda about an imminent breakdown in the talks, my worry is the Chinese side may offer some meagre last-minute concession which will be hungrily and gratefully accepted by the British. Experience has shown that even if the Chinese were to make concessions, that would only happen at the last moment. The question that then arises is how the British Government would respond. Judging from the Governor's dramatic climbdown on electoral arrangements revealed last month and the to-ing and fro-ing in the past few weeks, neither side wants the talks to fail. Thus it should not be surprising to find the Chinese throwing a few bones from the negotiating table at the last minute to keep the British from walking away. One of Beijing's objectives is complete and utter humiliation of Mr Patten. The British side want to show that London will not be bullied by Beijing. As the Governor put it, the British do not mind bending over backwards to accommodate Beijing. They just do not want to keel over. In a nutshell, the British want a deal with the Chinese which will give London face. If this means sacrificing the long-term interests of the Hong Kong people, so be it. Despite pronouncements to the contrary, it is also obvious that the Chinese do not want Britain to abandon the talks and ''go it alone''. Beijing does not want the Hong Kong Government to have a relatively free hand in organising the 1994-95 elections, unconstrained by a Sino-British deal. Beijing's anxiety is reflected in the reiteration of Deng Xiaoping's threat to Margaret Thatcher 11 years ago - that China might take over Hong Kong before 1997. Apart from intimidating the Hong Kong people, what else would China hope to gain by repeating such threats? TO Beijing's dismay, Hong Kong responded with a sharp rise in the Hang Seng Index, which some people have misguidedly used as a barometer of the territory's political confidence. In frustration, Beijing warned that if Britain went her own way, the Hong Kong Government would not only be a lame duck, it would be reduced to a legless duck. The stock market soared higher. Beijing then warned that in addition to Legislative Councillors, Municipal Councillors and district board members would all be thrown off the ''through-train'' in 1997. No one batted an eyelid. Even the disgraced former director of Xinhua in Hong Kong who has sought refuge in the US, Mr Xu Jiatun, was enlisted to blackmail the Hong Kong people. Last month he warned from Princeton that if the talks broke down, ''anything could happen''. By now it should be clear that China does not hold all the cards. In order to have a smooth transition, the British Government's co-operation is essential. However, many cynical Hong Kong people are concerned that, under pressure from Foreign Office mandarins and the business community, the British Government may abandon attempts to broaden the franchise of the 1994-95 elections. The Governor should know the level of support he can get in the Legislative Council on his different proposals. The question is which side he is on. Even if he were to introduce a package which complies with the Chinese Government's ''Three Principles'', he could get enough support. But if he is not careful, he may end up alienating the entire pro-democracy lobby.