Deputies to seek stronger role

LOCAL deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) will seek to strengthen their role in the remaining part of the transition period following the collapse of the talks on electoral arrangements.

Speaking after a monthly meeting of NPC deputies, assistant director of Xinhua (the New China News Agency), Lee Wui-ting, said they would seek talks with the NPC Standing Committee after a meeting of the law-making body next month.

Mr Lee said they would ask to meet senior government officials to get a clear account of the 17 rounds of failed talks on the 1994-95 electoral arrangements.

Officials will be asked to explain the work of the Preliminary Working Committee, a working panel set up by China to deal with transition matters.

Mr Lee said discussions would be held in Beijing next month to decide whether a local office would be set up to monitor the work of the panel.

This would enable NPC deputies better to consider their role in preparing for the transition, he said.

Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd is understood to have written the foreword to the White Paper, due to be published today, which details Britain's version of the secret talks with China on political reforms.

The remainder of the document, said to be about 30 pages long, details the course of the often frosty negotiations with the Chinese, and an annexe which summarises the main points.

A total of 100,000 copies of the paper have been printed - 30,000 in English.

Much interest centres on the account the British give of China's reaction to their offer of conditional compromises, which were made last summer, and on the state of play between the two countries in November, when Governor Chris Patten consulted with the British Cabinet.

A source said the document deals with these two ''turning points'' in great detail.

Copies of the White Paper can be obtained from District Board offices.