A 34-year-old bricklayer from China who has spent four years trying to trace his American father has entered Hong Kong illegally and is hiding while U.S. officials seek evidence of his citizenship.

Zheng Lianqun, 34, a resident of Tianjin in northern China, apparently is one of a few people who have left China and reached the British colony in the last few months. Under strict new laws in Hong Kong, authorities must send Zheng back to China unless he can prove he is an American.

In an interview with The Washington Post in Peking in late 1979, Zheng said his father's name was Louis George (or possibly George Louis). His father, a Marine stationed at Tianjin, married Li Shuzhen, a Tianjin mill worker, in 1946.

Zheng said that soon after his birth, his parents departed for the United States, leaving him with friends because he was too young to travel. He said his grandmother burned a letter from his father in the early 1950s because China and the United States were fighting in the Korean War, and she feared trouble from authorities. He said he was not told that his father was an American until after President Nixon visited China in 1972.