THE Government was fighting to extend Hong Kong people's influence rather than British influence after 1997, Governor Chris Patten said yesterday. He was responding to a commentary from Xinhua (the New China News Agency) which alleged the British Government was deliberately building up its own ruling group for the purpose of extending its influence after the change-over. Mr Patten said: ''I think life is too short to respond to every piece of propaganda from the New China News Agency. There are important things to do in life without getting involved in that. ''What we are talking about is not people appointed by the Governor or people appointed by the Government going beyond 1997, but people elected by the citizens of Hong Kong going beyond 1997,'' he said. ''It's extending the influence of the people of Hong Kong, and I can't think why anybody should be against that.'' The Secretary for Trade and Industry, Brian Chau Tak-hay, yesterday told the Legislative Council trade and industry panel that the Governor had not yet decided whether to visit the United States next year to lobby for renewal of China's Most Favoured Nation Trading status.