Hong Kong has escaped potentially crippling laws in the US which could have thwarted its hi-tech imports. A bill sparked by the congressional inquiry into allegations of Chinese espionage that threatened to put Hong Kong on par with the mainland in terms of US export restrictions never made it to the final draft of wider State Department legislation. 'It is a small but significant victory, and in the short-term it is very good news,' said one official at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Washington. 'Any language involving Hong Kong and exports was removed before the bill moved into its final stage. We just hope that nothing emerges in the future which will see it return as an issue.' The office had been battling behind the scenes to get the issue dropped, fearing it would hamper Hong Kong's commercial development and its wider reputation as an independent, free port. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had sought the controls after claims in the Cox Report in June that the PLA Garrison was a transshipment centre for strategic goods. The controls could have affected imports of super-computers used in finance, government and science - equipment especially important to the Cyber-Port project. The bill demanded Hong Kong be treated just like the mainland should it ever deny US officers the right to check shipments of goods and a shipment was later found to have been routed to a different destination in China. But the SAR section was dropped during a joint Senate and House of Representatives hearing just before the State Department Authorisation Bill was passed in a flurry of backed-up laws before the Christmas recess at the weekend. 'Hong Kong's in the clear for the moment,' a congressional aide said. 'It shows some of the heat has come off since the Cox Report.'