AS GOVERNOR Chris Patten rounded off a hectic week with a less than inspiring speech to the Lions Club at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Central, barely 200 metres away hundreds of businessmen were gathered to hear China's top man on Hong Kong, Lu Ping, deliver a key speech in the Hilton hotel. Of course, the pair never crossed paths, except perhaps when their motorcades were both caught in the same post-lunch hour traffic jams in Central. As the chief of Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Mr Lu had insisted he was too busy during his nine-day visit - which ends on Tuesday - to accept the Governor's repeated offers of a meeting. Other Chinese officials said Mr Patten was probably also too busy to attend their events. ''As Governor, he must be tied up with his work. That's why I don't want to bother him,'' said Bank of China chairman Wang Qiren, explaining why Mr Patten had not been invited to their new bank-note issuing ceremony. And the Governor seemed to be doing everything possible to prove Mr Wang right last week, as he set a frantic pace travelling around the territory that left some of those following him gasping for breath. In the space of five days, Mr Patten delivered four luncheon addresses, visited two schools and an old people's home, and made two district visits, in areas ranging from Pokfulam to Kowloon Bay and Tsing Yi Island. For some, the pace was almost unprecedented. ''This has been a terrible week, I hope I can leave this hell behind,'' said United Daily News journalist Pat Kwok Yuk-lan, who had been trailing the Governor throughout the past year. Mr Patten denied his hectic schedule had anything to do with winning the propaganda battle with Mr Lu, insisting most events had been arranged many months before. ''I visit schools fairly regularly. I've made visits many times as you know perfectly well because you've accompanied me on many of them,'' he said, when reporters questioned him on a visit to Wellington College that had been added to his diary only a week earlier. Much of Mr Patten's programme had been planned long in advance. But the Governor's aides did make some last-minute changes - adding extra district visits - and insisting on opening events to the press and public. Sometimes the timing was fortuitous for the British side. After Mr Lu was televised watching Chinese soldiers perform military exercises in Guangzhou last Sunday, the Governor was able to subtly counter by watching hundreds of policemen march past a day later, at a long-arranged ceremony to mark the 150th anniversary of the Royal Hong Kong Police. The last-minute additions to Mr Patten's programme also had the advantage of ensuring he was rarely off the television screens, giving him an edge over the reclusive Mr Lu, who spent most of his week secluded in local Xinhua (the New China News Agency) chief Zhou Nan's Stanley fortress. Bought by China for $70 million in the early 1980s, from then Carrian group boss George Tan Soon-gin, the massive seven-block complex on Stanley Beach Road was used for everything from Preliminary Working Committee sub-group meetings to a private dinner with Heung Yee Kuk leaders. Shut in a dark conference room with the curtains drawn, the day-long sessions of the Beijing-appointed advisory body were only interrupted for buffets one official described as ''like something out of an assembly line''. Xinhua's high-class chef - who hailed from Beijing's elite Diaoyutai State guesthouse - had evidently not been installed at Stanley for the events. The outside world's only glimpse of the meetings came during the five-minute photo-calls before they started, when Mr Lu checked the press coverage of his visit. ''Of course I am reading the stories about myself,'' he replied light-heartedly when questioned by reporters about the pile of papers he was seen flicking through, at a Wednesday morning photo-call. But by Friday morning the visiting mainland official's mood seemed to have soured, with a long-faced Mr Lu too busy flicking through largely unfavourable press cuttings to spare a glance for the cameras during the photo-call. For, at least in its early days, the visit has been something of a public relations disaster for Beijing. It got off to a shaky start when Mr Lu, upon arrival, cancelled his planned press statement and left by a back entrance from Kowloon's Hunghom railway station, infuriating waiting journalists and protesters, who branded him ''a tortoise''. ''He is the best one to be a tortoise, he knows how to hide his head,'' sang demonstrators demanding the release of jailed Ming Pao journalist Xi Yang, in a parody of a popular local tune. ''He always says he has a heart for Hong Kong people, he always said he would like to see Hong Kong people, but in fact he evaded Hong Kong people.'' That produced a barrage of unfavourable headlines, even from normally pro-Beijing newspapers, as well as critical comments from pro-China figures. An infuriated Mr Lu told Hong Kong Affairs advisers on Friday he had only avoided the press on the advice of government security officials, who warned him of the possibility of a confrontation with waiting protesters. Government House strongly denied such a warning had been issued. Earlier he had tried to mitigate the damage by unexpectedly approaching the press during the Bank of China bank-note ceremony, his first public function of the week. He even agreed to answer a few questions in English and hinted a meeting with Mr Patten might be possible before too long. But it was not until Friday's luncheon speech, organised by Hong Kong's five chambers of commerce, that the visiting mainland official won a chance to create a more favourable climate. THIS was aided by the absence of his hard-line rival, Mr Zhou, who had left for Beijing the previous day to attend a meeting of the National People's Congress Standing Committee which was expected to endorse a list of 13 more Preliminary Working Committee members. With the local Xinhua chief out of the way, Mr Lu was free to cultivate his more moderate image. ''Cities like Shanghai can never take the place of Hong Kong because, no matter how developed Shanghai becomes, it will remain socialist,'' he said, playing on one of the main fears of many of the 500 businessmen present. ''Shanghai will serve the country as a socialist metropolis, while Hong Kong will play a different role in its capacity as a capitalist Special Administrative Region.'' But Mr Lu had a more immediate message too: namely that it was he who was in charge when it came to Beijing's handling of the territory's affairs, and that his visit was to re-assert the supremacy of the pragmatic Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office over the more extreme Xinhua. The message was delivered with subtlety, mainly by stressing the responsibility of his office for safeguarding Hong Kong's future, even when that meant protecting the territory against the excesses of other mainland officials. ''In future, any department, when dealing with Hong Kong, must abide by the Basic Law, and it is the responsibility of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office to see that everything is done in this matter,'' he said. ''It is the responsibility of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office to see that the principle of 'one country, two systems' as well as all the basic policies laid down in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law are being fully carried out.'' Mr Lu's last speech in a similar vein, delivered at a Rotary Club meeting in Shenzhen in March, was censored by the local leftist press, which took its orders from Xinhua. But this time, speaking in English to an audience of leading businessmen in the heart of Hong Kong, there was no danger of his words not getting across. Mr Lu's newfound desire to cultivate a popular public image was also evident in the sudden revelation he was considering rounding off the trip with a visit to a housing estate and possibly some other public appearances. However, there is as yet no word on whether these will go ahead. After a week of watching the Governor take a commanding lead in the propaganda, Mr Lu's fight-back to regain the public relations initiative has barely begun.