A TRIP to learn more about the training methods of the People's Liberation Army in order to allay fears about Hong Kong's post-1997 garrison turned into a lecture in Communist Party history yesterday. Hong Kong affairs advisers saw nothing more than an army dormitory on the first day of their two-day visit to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) facilities in Guangzhou. A senior mainland official told the Sunday Morning Post that the troops seen by the 111-strong delegation were not those that will be stationed in Hong Kong after 1997. Hong Kong National People's Congress delegate Liu Yiu-chu said the trip was a waste of time, despite mainland media claims that many visitors had enjoyed the day. Senior PLA officers spent much of yesterday briefing the visitors on the history of the Red Army before World War II, Ms Liu said. ''From the party's point of view this may be very important but this is not what we came here for,'' she said. They should have organised a modern exhibition for us.'' Preliminary Working Committee (PWC) social and security sub-group convenor Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai branded as superficial the effort to show the PLA on the first day. However, Xinhua (the News China News Agency) had a different version of the impact. It reported that several visitors said that with such an army, they were fully confident of a peaceful return of Hong Kong to the mainland. Several PWC members called for further displays of the PLA at work, and asked that the Hong Kong people be allowed to see the army in action. Such displays could help people to understand the PLA and lessen any fear of the troops. The delegation saw PLA soldiers from the elite Red One Company, officials said. Xinhua deputy director Zhang Junsheng insisted that the PLA had a good track record, despite its image being greatly undermined by its role in the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy groups. Mr Zhang admitted there had been a recent case of PLA officers beating people in Shenzhen, but added: ''This was only a specific case and was done by a minority group. If you extended this to a general picture, this is not good thinking.'' Hong Kong media was refused permission to cover the PWC visit, but newly appointed Hong Kong affairs adviser, Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, said it had contained ''nothing sensitive'' and should have been opened for media coverage.