A Chinese bricklayer who has spent four years searching for the man he says is his American father has arrived in the United States after being freed from a Hong Kong prison by an unusual U.S. decision to let him continue his search here.

Zheng Lianqun, 34, was flown to Dover, Del., late last week. He will live there and work at a Chinese restaurant, the Orient Express, run by his financial sponsor, former Chinese-Vietnamese refugee Kee Chang.

"I am very happy to be here," Chang said in a telephone interview. "Many American friends are already trying to help me." Chang said a U.S. Navy veteran stopped at the restaurant this week and gave Zheng information about a woman in San Diego who may know Zheng's mother.

The tall, freckle-faced Zheng has told U.S. authorities that he was born in Tianjin, China, in 1947, and was left with friends and relatives when his Chinese mother went to San Diego to join the U.S. Marine she had married in 1946.

He said his Chinese relatives destroyed all evidence of their U.S. connections after the communists took over China and did not tell him about his American father until after U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger visited China in 1971.

Unable to obtain a U.S. visa after cajoling and pleading for years with American officials and journalists in Peking, Zheng crossed the border into Hong Kong illegally in May.

He surrendered to Hong Kong authorities, who were obliged by Hong Kong law to return him to China, but Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) was impressed by his story when she met him in Hong Kong, and with other members of Congress she persuaded the Immigration and Naturalization Service to grant him a "humanitarian parole."