TWO cheers for China's new list of Hong Kong affairs advisers. By including people from the ''moderate'' democratic camp, including Meeting Point, the Association of Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL) and even the Hongkong Bank's Legislative Council representative Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen, Beijing has moved towards broader consultation. A third cheer would be misplaced. The selection is better than the uncritical supporters found in the previous lists but the new list contains no consistent critics of Chinese policy. It does include a few who could be relied on to argue logically against flawed ideas in their areas of expertise. The question which almost certainly will arise, however, is would many be prepared to speak out publicly against a Chinese position? The most striking, if not surprising, omission is that of outspoken supporters of political reform. The ADPL has broadcast its disagreement with Chris Patten's attempts to broaden the franchise, as has the newly appointed Elsie Tu. Meeting Point faces both ways. Mr Cheng prefers to keep his ideas to himself. Even the appointment of former United Democrats member Lau Kong-wah appears to be a slap in the face for his old political allies. The appointment of moderates and formerly pro-British figures is a typical united front tactic. It rewards defection and makes life in the pro-China camp seem attractive to the waverers. But as a means of effective, broad-based consultation it is highly limited. If China really wanted to know how its policies and pronouncements would affect Hong Kong, it should be prepared to approach its critics. This may be an academic point: those members of the United Democrats China has branded subversives could hardly accept the position in the unlikely event they were approached. Even lower profile United Democrats members would regard appointment as a poisoned chalice. So polarised has opinion become, service as an adviser might be denounced as collaboration. But China has contributed to this air of anxiety and suspicion. Had it appointed and listened to all shades of opinion from the start, it would not now be faced with such hostility and distrust. It should rethink its approach, declaring itself open to all opinions. Hearing the views of people who are prepared to say only what they think Beijing wants to hear does not advance China's understanding of the complexities of Hong Kong society. Appointing democrats as advisers might be counter-productive. But inviting critics to give their views - and listening to them - might help heal some of the wounds of the past five years. It might also lead to more balanced, less confrontational policy - for the good of Hong Kong.