Hong Kong will remain a very important player in the development of China, predicts Washington state Governor Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American governor. Mr Locke told a General Chamber of Commerce dinner that while the situation since the handover had been better than expected, the transition was still at an early stage. 'There's a lot that I think China could model itself on here in Hong Kong, and to help transport and share those working, functioning, respected mechanisms into China would be welcomed by the international community,' he said. Mr Locke, 54, was in Hong Kong after leading a third trade delegation to China. The 26-member business, agriculture and education group, which also visited Vietnam, met President Hu Jintao and other senior officials and business leaders in Beijing. The trade delegation promoted two-way trade and investment and sought to strengthen business and cultural ties. Mr Locke was elected governor of Washington state in 1996. He was re-elected in 2000 but has said he will not seek re-election next year. He has been helping the John Kerry election campaign and is looking forward to the arrival of his third child in November. Mr Locke's grandparents migrated to the United States from the Guangdong village of Jilong, near Taishan, more than 100 years ago. The governor first visited Hong Kong in 1960, when he was just 10 years old. At the dinner, Mr Locke urged trade and commerce organisations to spearhead reforms to make the process of applying for US visas easier. The American Chamber of Commerce has complained about the stricter security measures put in place by Washington since the September 11 attacks on New York and the US capital.