THE United States is pressuring Hongkong to take a greater role in stopping the flow of Chinese illegal immigrants after the fatal voyage of the Golden Venture. In top-level informal meetings this week, US diplomats acting on instructions from Washington told government officials that they wanted help in a ''comprehensive solution'' to the problem. Hongkong asked what more it could do - despite Security Branch statements this week that the Government was already doing all it could. Both sides are now examining ways Hongkong can expand its role to stop the shipments, while local anti-triad detectives wait for US information on any local links to the Golden Venture. The struggle of more than 300 migrants from the ship to New York's Atlantic shore, which left eight dead, has pricked the national consciousness far more than any previous East Coast landing. Six remain missing. The political pressure has extended to China where mainland officials yesterday promised crackdowns in Fujian and co-operation with other countries. President Bill Clinton has not been spared either, coming under Congress pressure to declare an ''immigration emergency''. Vallerie Steenson, spokesman for the US Consulate, confirmed the meeting took place but said it was not meant to be seen as criticism of Hongkong's role to date. However, senior government sources said they feared the US was looking to use Hongkong as a scapegoat for its own problem. The public mention of Hongkong triads by US immigration officials, hours after the Golden Venture ran aground had aggravated the concern. The Security Branch has already directed police to chase information on any links, even ones which may not yield local prosecutions. The Marine Department has also been told to stop cargo ships illegally refitted for passengers from leaving port. One US diplomat close to the meeting said the US was not trying to dump its problems on Hongkong, but simply wanted help from all countries that could play a part. The US was also seeking to involve Singapore, Thailand and states such as Honduras and Panama, which register many of the ships involved in the booming trade. Meanwhile, a mainland Foreign Ministry statement said China had always been opposed to illegal emigration. It said authorities had tried to prevent illegal exits and had cracked down on traffickers. ''But the illegal immigration has been an international issue, and the bases of some of the organisations which organise the illegal activities are not in China,'' the Foreign Ministry said. ''We are willing to co-operate with the countries concerned to jointly solve this issue.'' Fuzhou's party chief yesterday also vowed to step up control against smuggling of its residents. Party chief Xi Jinping has issued instructions to officers at the Public Security Bureau, the border security unit as well as all party and government officials asking for greater alertness to illegal border-crossings. He said the cracking down on syndicates and their snakeheads had been listed as a task of top-priority. In Washington, Mr Clinton came under fire for inaction from Congressmen. California Senator Dianne Feinstein declared that the US needed to ''send a very large message that this country is not going to tolerate smugglers making profit of unfortunate people at a time when it is very difficult in America to provide them with any kind of real hope or opportunity''. ''The President said when he was in California that he did intend to move more forcefully,'' Ms Feinstein said. ''We have not seen that yet.'' There also was growing sentiment in Congress that Mr Clinton should reverse an executive order by former president George Bush allowing Chinese citizens to apply for political asylum on the basis of the country's coercive birth control policies. Because it potentially applies to huge numbers of Chinese, there is a widespread belief in government agencies that the policy has contributed to the recent increase in migration from China.