Future chief executive Tung Chee-hwa has dropped plans to visit the United States before the handover. Mr Tung's office said he attached great importance to Hong Kong-US ties but was delaying the trip until later this year because he was too busy. 'The Chief Executive believes his focus must be in Hong Kong,' a spokesman said. However, there were claims last night that Mr Tung put off the trip because of American opposition to the provisional legislature and his plans to curb civil liberties. Mr Tung has said he wants to make the trip to dispel American concerns over the issues, but a government source said to do so would put him in an 'unwinnable situation'. Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong said: 'If he goes, he will face challenges from officials and the media.' Referring to this week's planned meeting between Democratic chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming and President Bill Clinton, The Frontier's Lee Cheuk-yan said: 'I think it is good for Mr Tung to drop the visit. 'If Mr Clinton refuses to meet him it will be detrimental to his authority in the territory.' But Liberal Party chairman Allen Lee Peng-fei said: 'I don't believe his decision has anything to do with Martin Lee.' Nevertheless, it is understood Mr Tung's top aides also lobbied against the trip. Sources said he originally planned to use the trip to attend a Hong Kong-US Economic Co-operation Committee meeting and a Trade Development Council meeting early next month. But his advisers believe a trip after the handover will give him more authority. The Better Hong Kong Foundation regularly sponsors US lobbying trips. Its chief executive, Leoni Ki Man-fung, said: 'It will be more positive for Mr Tung to visit the US after July 1. He will have concrete achievements to offer then.' US officials and Congress members have lobbied for Mr Tung to visit. A spokesman for the US Consul General said yesterday that he would be welcome in Washington at any time, but the schedule was up to him.