A TOP Chinese official angrily denounced Executive Councillor Professor Edward Chen Kwan-yiu yesterday, saying he talked ''nonsense'' when claiming it was better for Hong Kong if paramount leader Deng Xiaoping died ''earlier rather than later''. Xinhua (New China News Agency) deputy director, Zhang Junsheng, said he was furious about remarks made by Professor Chen during a visit to Japan last week. ''It's nonsense for Mr Chen, as an Executive Councillor, to make such frivolous remarks about a man who is highly respected by people all over the world,'' Mr Zhang said. ''Personally, I am really quite angry. Mr Deng's health is very good. But, regardless of that, I do not think Mr Chen should make such remarks about a respectable old man.'' Professor Chen was supposed to have told foreign correspondents in Tokyo: ''From the point of view of Hong Kong people, it's better for Deng to go earlier than later.'' But yesterday he refused to apologise, insisting he had been misquoted, and that even a child should have understood what he meant. ''I never said that Deng should die,'' he said while attending the opening of a Consumer Council exhibition in Pacific Place. ''I wasn't wishing for Deng Xiaoping's death, only an end to the uncertainty. ''There are clearly only three options: he will either pass away before 1997, during 1997, or after 1997. I merely pointed out that the timing is critical to Hong Kong. ''What I said was in no way remarkable. It's only common sense. A child would have understood it.'' He railed at the local media for ''blowing out of proportion'' one minor comment from a 45-minute luncheon address to the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo. He said he had been explaining how Hong Kong suffered from uncertainty generated by worries over Mr Deng's deteriorating health and speculation about his successor. On Friday, the latest rumours concerning the death of Mr Deng sent the Hang Seng Index into a 263-point dive. ''I'm not happy about the way it was reported and I'm not apologising,'' he said. ''I don't mind if they report what I said, because I made a wonderful speech about China and its future direction. But they take this one thing and report it out of context.'' Professor Chen also accused local press and academics of self-censorship. ''There is so much self-censorship, among the media and the academic community,'' he said. ''That's what's sad. It's not coming from Beijing, but here. We're beginning to think 10 times before we say something, about what the reaction might be in Beijing. We compromise ourselves.'' Mr Zhang said it was unlikely China would file a formal complaint with the Hong Kong Government over Professor Chen's remarks since they were based on a purely personal point of view. He said China recognised that most Hong Kong people respected Mr Deng, the architect of the ''one country two systems'' concept that promises the territory autonomy after the 1997 resumption of mainland rule.