The US Consul-General has said the Hong Kong Government's handling of the Falun Gong showed America will have to continue to pay attention to the situation in the SAR. In a speech to the Asia Society in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, Michael Klosson praised the SAR's freedoms and its adherence to the rule of law, but cited several incidents that caused concern, including handling of the Falun Gong, Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang's resignation, the mainland's interference in the press and the pace of democratisation. Mr Klosson said the SAR Government's vow to 'keep an eye' on the Falun Gong highlighted the need for the US to continue to pay attention, but he said the sect's conference in Hong Kong last month was an example of the autonomy and freedoms enjoyed by the territory. Mr Klosson said he hoped this 'autonomy and international character' would remain strong even after Mrs Chan's departure. 'Her announcement generated lots of speculation and time will tell whether the excessively pessimistic prognoses of some observers will be borne out,' he said. 'We certainly hope that will not be the case.' President Jiang Zemin's comments last December in Macau, calling on the press to play a more positive role, prompted concern about China imposing limits on press freedom in Hong Kong, he said. 'But the media are still free and feisty and for the most part not shy about reporting on China or criticising the Hong Kong Government.' Mr Klosson praised the Government's defence of freedom of the press after Liaison Office deputy director Wang Fengchao told reporters last year not to report the views of Taiwan independence advocates as 'normal news'. 'The Government, with strong support from the local community, responded by reaffirming Hong Kong's commitment to press freedom,' he said. 'Such reactions reflect the continuing strength of those values.' Mr Klosson also called for a review of the pace of democratisation set out in the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration. 'In the years since these documents were drafted, political expectations have increased and experience has shown a need to look at the issue of accountability,' he said. On the economic front, Mr Klosson said Hong Kong had been recovering well from the financial crisis and that China's entry into the World Trade Organisation would be a 'net plus' for Hong Kong. 'Even if Hong Kong's share of the economic pie is smaller in relative terms, it will be larger in absolute terms because the pie itself will be bigger.' China had kept its promise to respect Hong Kong's autonomy for the most part, Mr Klosson said. 'Human rights are respected. Protests and demonstrations are common. Hong Kong shows that free societies and free markets work.' Representatives from 30 organisations lobbied Central Government Offices in support of the Falun Gong. In a letter to the Chief Executive, the group urged the Government to respect freedom and human rights. Fung Chi-wood, of the Social Democratic Forum, and spokesman for the group, said the Government should not criticise the Falun Gong before it had any evidence to prove it was an 'evil cult', as branded by the mainland.