A GROUP of Congress members has written to US President Bill Clinton to strongly oppose conditions being attached to the renewal of China's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status, a top Hongkong trade official says. Secretary for Trade and Industry Brian Chau Tak-hay said yesterday that the more than 10 members who had written the letter were Democrats from the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee. The letter had been sent to an economic affairs official of the Clinton administration, Mr Chau told reporters after a Hongkong Exporters' Association luncheon meeting. ''That's good news for Hongkong and will surely benefit it,'' Mr Chau said. Earlier, some Congress members were said to be determined to file legislation on attaching conditions that would effectively block US-China trade, even if Mr Clinton took the initiative to act tough with Beijing. Conditions attached to MFN renewal would be a response to US concerns about human rights, arms sales and China's trade record. According to US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, China's human rights record is one of the main US concerns. Mr Chau, who went to Washington for three days last month to lobby legislators, said he thought Mr Clinton would not decide on policies relating to MFN until June. The Clinton administration was still reviewing policies towards China, he said. Mr Chau dismissed the suggestion that the outcome of the Sino-British talks, expected to resume next Thursday, would affect the timing of Governor Chris Patten's planned visit to Washington. He said the governor's visit would start in the week beginning May 3, as originally suggested. ''The governor will be kept fully in touch of the negotiations [between China and Britain],'' he said. Mr Patten is expected to argue for the continuation of unconditional MFN status for China in talks with Mr Clinton. But there have been reports that the US president has not scheduled a meeting with Mr Patten. Mr Chau has said repeatedly that the governor's visit to Washington should not be linked to Hongkong's political reforms. ''We want to emphasise time and again that trade issues should not be politicised. ''We also do not want to see Hongkong's political development being linked with the MFN trade issue,'' he said. But he refused to estimate the impact in Washington of the outcome of the Sino-British talks. Mr Patten's visit follows a local business group's lobbying trip to Washington for the renewal of China's MFN trade status last month. The delegation was headed by the Hongkong General Chamber of Commerce. Local trade organisations have also made lobbying efforts in the run-up to the June deadline. During a two-week stay in Hongkong, aides to members of the US House and Senate were told the importance of unconditional renewal of MFN status. They were also taken to the mainland by representatives of major business organisations. On reports that Taiwan was to propose that the Trade Development Council of Hongkong set up a representative office there, Mr Chau said the council would have to decide this. Recent reports indicate that Taiwan wants the semi-official organisation open a representative office in Taiwan. The TDC is a government-subsidised organisation, with independent operation. It is said to have a consultant in Taiwan.