GOVERNOR Mr Chris Patten's most outspoken opponent - when it comes to attaching conditions to China's special trade status with the United States - has praised his courage and admitted that he had ''made a difference'' during his lobbying mission to Washington. Mrs Nancy Pelosi even suggested some conditions might be dropped from her bill, which applies conditions on China being able to retain Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status that cuts import tariffs. But Mr Patten admitted that both the executive and the legislature would be listening to more than just Hongkong, when they made up their minds about China policy. ''I'm optimistic that our arguments are going to be very closely considered when the administration and the congressional leadership decide their policy,'' he said. ''But, to be realistic, their policy-making is going to take account of what was said during the presidential campaign, public opinion and concern over three issues: Chinese arms proliferation, human rights and a huge trade surplus with the US.'' Although his remarks came at the end of a day of meetings with congressmen opposed to placing conditions on MFN renewal, it was clear his mood was tempered by tougher talks the previous day with top administration officials, including President Mr Bill Clinton and more hostile congressmen. After a frosty meeting with Senate majority leader Mr George Mitchell, Mr Patten had gone on to talks with Mrs Pelosi at a dinner thrown by the British Ambassador, Sir Robin Renwick. Both Mr Mitchell and Mrs Pelosi have tabled bills in Congress seeking to place conditions on MFN. Neither showed any signs of being convinced by his arguments. Speaking outside Congress, Mrs Pelosi said the Governor's position ''is what the Governor's position must be. He has to be for unconditional renewal''. However, she said his visit might lead to ''conditional renewal which is sensitive to some of the issues he brought up''. ''In any event he will have been a success. He will have made a difference in the debate I believe.'' She said his personal approach had made policy-makers more sensitive, particularly because it came from ''someone who has shown personal courage in the arena where we are operating right now''. She would not be drawn on whether the condition demanding adherence to the Joint Declaration could be dropped from the bill, admitting only that not all the present conditions needed to be in it. She said there were many in Congress who had ''strong feelings about China, negative feelings'' whether on Hongkong or human rights, Tibet, trade or weapons proliferation. There were some issues, especially proliferation which could not be ignored. But the final shape of the conditions package would be for negotiation with Mr Clinton, assuming he was ready to impose conditions himself rather than wait for Congress to take the decisions for him.