HONG KONG has been given a positive report in the first study carried out on the SAR's political status by the United States Congress. 'So far, so good,' is the assessment of the first quarterly report on Hong Kong's transition prepared by a new US House of Representatives taskforce on the SAR. The report praises China's apparent lack of interference in Hong Kong matters, its willingness to allow US ship visits to continue as before, and the SAR's ability to weather its recent financial turbulence. Several members of the taskforce, led by the chairman of the House sub-committee on East Asia, Doug Bereuter, will travel to Hong Kong before the New Year to conduct research into the latest developments. The report, requested by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, notes that contrary to concerns voiced before the handover, public demonstrations have been allowed to continue and the media is covering the news openly and freely. It says: 'The Chinese Government appears to be taking seriously President Jiang Zemin's pledge at the handover that no mainland government officials 'may or will be allowed to interfere' in the affairs which Hong Kong should administer on its own. 'Far from being heavy-handed or insensitive, Beijing appears to have absented itself from active involvement in Hong Kong affairs.' The congressmen say the Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative Ma Yuzhen has 'deferred to the Hong Kong Government on virtually all matters'. The report adds: 'If China is attempting to influence certain issues, it is doing so in a manner that is not public.' One area of 'serious concern' the report noted was the changes to the election laws for next year's legislative polls. It also said Washington's decision to grant more lenient controls to Hong Kong than to the mainland over the export of sensitive technology was something that needed to be monitored closely. 'It is too early to judge the transition. 'Nevertheless, indications are hopeful,' the report concludes.