By EDWARD A. GARGAN
Published: October 3, 1996
HONG KONG, Oct. 2— The last governor in 157 years of British rule of Hong Kong delivered his final policy address to the colonial legislature today, combining a passionate defense of Britain's record with a denunciation of China's intentions toward the territory when its takes control next July.
Beijing has declared that the territory's elected legislature will be abolished and replaced by a body of its choosing. The legislators themselves seem unwilling to defend the institution. But in his speech today Chris Patten, the Governor, denounced China's efforts to change Hong Kong's political system.
''Britain has made clear repeatedly to Chinese leaders that it would be wrong and damaging to scrap this Council and replace it with a non-elected body,'' he told the 60 members of the Legislative Council. ''The role of this institution, its credibility and legitimacy, lies at the heart of wider doubts about the future of pluralism and freedom in Hong Kong. How can you have complete faith in the future of the rule of law if you worry about the integrity of the institution which makes the laws?''
Beijing has insisted that Mr. Patten violated agreements between Britain and China when he introduced electoral changes intended to move the territory toward a fully elected legislature. But Britain has adamantly maintained that it has adhered to all its agreements.
He also warned that the greatest threat to the territory's future was from Hong Kongers themselves.
''My anxiety,'' he said, ''is this: not that this community's autonomy would be usurped by Peking, but that it could be given away bit by bit by some people in Hong Kong. We all know that over the last couple of years we have seen decisions taken in good faith by the Government of Hong Kong appealed surreptitiously to Beijing -- decisions taken in the interests of the whole community lobbied against behind closed doors by those whose personal interests may have been adversely affected.''
Regularly in the last few years, Hong Kong's leading businessmen have gone to Beijing to meet with China's leaders. In some instances, Beijing has intruded into Hong Kong government decisions and has blocked commercial concessions.
Legislators, those critical of China's approach to Hong Kong as well as those sympathetic to Beijing, expressed unhappiness with Mr. Patten's address.
''I'm very disappointed in his attitude as far as the whole theme is concerned as posing questions on the future autonomy,'' said Allen Lee, who has often accused Mr. Patten of needlessly antagonizing Beijing.
Martin Lee, the leader of Hong Kong's Democratic Party, the territory's largest political party, maintained that Mr. Patten has left Hong Kong defenseless before China. Mr. Patten, said Mr. Lee, who is not related to Allen Lee, ''has ducked the most important issue of all, which is how would he expect the rule of law to survive in Hong Kong after the transfer of sovereignty knowing that this elected legislature will be replaced by an appointed one. We believe that the defense of democracy, which is very high on his agenda, and the defense of the rule of law, which is also very high on his agenda, cannot be achieved by mere words. It can only be done by action, which sadly is lacking.''
One of China's senior representatives here, Zhang Junsheng, the deputy director of the New China News Agency, brushed aside Mr. Patten's attack on Beijing. ''He should have learned something by now and made some self-criticism,'' said Mr. Zhang, resorting to mainland Communist jargon. ''If he could do that, we would welcome him. But he's not willing to do that.''