Beijing may be nervously eyeing a new Republican leadership and its plans for missile defence shields and expanded links with Taiwan and Japan. But Hong Kong's Government and business elites are probably more comfortable with US president-elect George W. Bush. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has a long-standing friendship with the Bush family and has frequently discussed the 'success' of the Hong Kong transition with Mr Bush's father, former president George Bush, according to Republican sources. The friendship dates back to Mr Bush's time as ambassador to China in the 1970s. It proved useful to Mr Tung as former head of the family company, Orient Overseas Container Lines. In 1996, Mr Tung stood with former first lady Barbara Bush as she launched the OOCL America, one of the company's container ships, in Long Beach, California. Last year, former president Bush made two private trips to Hong Kong and met Mr Tung both times. He publicly praised Mr Tung's leadership and called for a deeper Sino-US relationship, saying China had made progress on both economic development and human rights. Mr Bush described post-handover Hong Kong as 'promises made, promises kept' and said Beijing and Washington 'must bash each other less and consult . . . more'. He also met Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang. Mr Tung and the Bushes had developed a 'warm and comfortable' friendship based on strong mutual respect, one source said. The Chief Executive also knows other prominent members of the Republican-dominated American business community, after living in the US in the 1960s. The president-elect's father and his former advisers are considered important influences over George W. given his relative inexperience, especially in international affairs. Good Hong Kong relations could prove important if Mr Bush struggles to contain a Republican right-wing keen for a tougher line on China. It is understood Mr Tung has met George W. in the past but has not seen him on more recent official visits. Mr Tung is also on first-name terms with Colin Powell, the Gulf War military leader picked by Mr Bush to be his secretary of state, and with Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser in the Bush administration and now one to the president-elect. The Chief Executive is friendly with former Republican presidential adviser Henry Kissinger. He also knows Bill McDonough, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, a candidate for treasury secretary. Mr McDonough has close ties with Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. It is understood the business community has advised Mr Tung to consider a fresh mission to Washington to cement relations with the new administration. Both the SAR Government and the business community are hoping Mr Bush will prove more committed to international trade and open markets than his defeated rival, Democrat Al Gore, whose strong links to organised labour had caused increasing concern in recent months. Close attention is also being paid to the right-wing of the Republican party, whose activists have increasingly tied Hong Kong to China in recent years, threatening strategic export controls and viewing local business as agents of Beijing. The right fiercely criticised Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa port operations in Panama - and Washington insiders believe Mr Bush must work to keep such outbursts in check. Chris Jackson, director-general of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Washington, said he was 'encouraged' by the Bush platform on trade.