WHEN Qian Qichen addressed the closing session of his Preliminary Working Committee (PWC) of the Special Administrative Region Preparatory Committee last week, he proclaimed with a straight face that Hong Kong was in chaos and threatened that China would not ''sit back and watch disorder'' in this city. But the only chaos Mr Qian could possibly see in Hong Kong is to be found in an illusion that he and his colleagues have made up for themselves, now that the Government has finally tabled its innocuous political reform package without China's blessings. The danger that such hallucinations will recur is of obvious concern to the people of Hong Kong. Will our city be in ''chaos'' every time the Hong Kong Government disagrees with Beijing? And how ironic that Chinese leaders are trying to bully Hong Kong people into submission by invoking Deng Xiaoping's decade-old threat. You would think that to these men, at least, the glorious day of Hong Kong's reunification with the Mainland would be something to look forward to - not something to use like a sword over our heads. But even more shocking than Mr Qian's outrageous comments to his 57-member team of Hong Kong ''experts'' was their response. The PWC members, 30 of whom have been recruited from the elite of Hong Kong's business, political and education sectors, approved these intolerable remarks with applause. How any reasonably minded person could endorse such a stunt by Mr Qian is impossible to comprehend. Either the PWC is as blind as its leader, or its members were chosen for their inability to see things as they truly are. Hong Kong cannot take such comments and such irresponsible behaviour lightly. At the same time, China is hoping to deceive us into believing that these same yes-men and yes-women will adequately represent the interests of Hong Kong, as Beijing gives PWC members greater power to review practically every aspect of our livelihood in preparation for 1997. But the people of Hong Kong know what we are promised by the British and Chinese in 1984 and refuse to allow any Beijing-controlled preparatory committee's preparatory committee take away what is rightfully ours - a high degree of autonomy and Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong. The PWC is nothing less than a flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of the Joint Declaration. It represents illegal Chinese attempts to have a hand in Hong Kong affairs before the transition date and, if we accept its legitimacy, sets a foreboding precedent for our future autonomy. The thought of setting up such a committee worried Hong Kong Basic Law draftsmen as far back as 1988. There was a concern that if such a body were established too early, it would undermine the legitimacy of the pre-1997 Hong Kong Government by servingas a second power centre. Lu Ping understood this argument and allayed Hong Kong people's fears by pushing back his committee's start date to 1996. In response to British insistence that the criteria for the through-train be set now so that anybody seeking election in 1995 would know where they stood in 1997, Lu said that there could be no agreement because he had to wait until after the Preparatory Committee considered the issue in 1996. Deciding anything before that date would turn committee decisions into rubber-stamps, he insisted. But past promises mean nothing to a Chinese leadership that insists on ignoring its legal obligations. No longer satisfied with the commitments it made in 1984, China now says it must prepare for 1997 on its own, and in so doing has given the PWC a mandate much wider than was contemplated for the Preparatory Committee itself. By July of next year, the PWC will be submitting its suggestions - which may become final decisions - for most of the matters Lu said he was forced to delay until 1996. The PWC's agenda makes a mockery of China's obligations under the Joint Declaration, which states in no uncertain terms that before 1997, the British Government shall have complete sovereignty over all Hong Kong affairs. And after the handover, the treaty provides that the Hong Kong SAR Government will have control over all internal matters, leaving only defence and foreign affairs for Beijing. At no point in time is China ever permitted to meddle with our system of government. Sadly, in the minds of China's current leaders, these words have lost all meaning. Just consider the reach of the five PWC sub-groups, which currently encompass political, economic, legal, cultural and education, and law and order issues. No stone hasbeen left unturned. The culture and education sub-group, for example, is already reviewing the schoolbooks our children will be studying after 1997. Where are the national defence and foreign relations connections in that? If this is any example of how Beijing plans to interpret the most fundamental provisions of the Joint Declaration, it does not bode well for our future autonomy. What happens after 1997 if we disagree with China over the breadth of its right to interfere in our local affairs? Will China again declare us to be in ''chaos'' and use that as an excuse to assume direct rule from Beijing? Furthermore, Beijing has neglected to heed Clause 4 of the Joint Declaration, which compels China to help maintain British control in Hong Kong until the appointed handover date. Establishment of the PWC shows not just an unwillingness to co-operate, but an active attempt to undermine British rule in Hong Kong before 1997. Co-operation has been lacking in the Joint Liaison Group (JLG), the official body set up under the Joint Declaration to ensure a smooth transition in 1997. This month's round of negotiations ended with disappointingly little progress, leaving these diplomats too little time to resolve too many crucial matters. China must understand that negotiations in the JLG are a responsibility - not an option to be selected whenever relations between Beijing and London are warm. It now seems that the PWC has the cheek to ask our loyal civil servants to assist them with information, after years of repeated statements that a neutral civil service is critical to the future prosperity of Hong Kong. Advice from selected members ofour Government will bring only factionalism to their ranks, and that will further undermine Hong Kong's stability. The PWC says it needs these members to ensure they receive reliable information about Hong Kong and adequately take account of Hong Kong people's aspirations. But if the committee really wanted to learn about Hong Kong, there are other means of communication already available. The JLG, for one, was designed to be a forum in which China could discuss current conditions in Hong Kong. We also have a free press which carries the views of the community on a variety of subjects every day. Hong Kong is an open and free society; we have nothing to hide from China or from anyone else. Indeed, we want to inform the North about who we are and how we work - but only through proper channels. Even if the PWC were to recruit a few liberal independent thinkers, that would hardly make it a legitimate forum in which to plan Hong Kong's future. The power balance will always be in Beijing's favour no matter who joins their escapade, and, of course, appointments are never a substitute for genuine democratic elections. All Hong Kong people know that no matter what the future brings, one matter is certain - there will not be chaos in Hong Kong. But even in the event there were ''disorder'' in our streets, the spirit of the Joint Declaration in no conceivable way permits an early take-over of Hong Kong. The only right China could possibly have to enter our streets would be to help the British resume control. The minute law and order is restored, any vestige of Chinese control in Hong Kong would be illegal. The people of Hong Kong are not blinded to reality by any strange hallucinations. They understand that the PWC is nothing but a Chinese ruse, designed to further obliterate promises made in the Joint Declaration. So while China prepares to prepare for1997, in contravention of its legal and moral obligations to the people of Hong Kong, we need no preparation to ignore Beijing's unreasonable demands yet again. Dr Yeung Sum is a democratically elected member of the Legislative Council and the Vice-Chairman of the United Democrats of Hong Kong.