On June 30, 1997, at midnight, the British colony was handed over to China. The Express investigated the political and economic issues of this region of the world, surveyed Hong Kong residents and explored the city's extraordinary past.

[Archives] With a candle in their hands, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people took to the streets on June 4 to mourn the victims of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square, which was repressed in blood eight years ago by the Chinese communist regime.

"With our candle flames and wax tears," said one speaker, "we think of the dead. Our tribute will not be the last."

Next year, then? Who knows... In two weeks' time, on June 30, 1997, at midnight, Her Majesty's last Governor will leave the British colony of Hong Kong; its approximately 6 million inhabitants will then be under Chinese control. The exercise - unprecedented - consists in bringing together one of the world's main financial and commercial centres, coupled with one of the most open societies on earth, with the last great totalitarian regime on the planet. The people of Hong Kong are gambling on their future. And the masters of Beijing, their credibility.

At first, certainly, the Chinese Communist Party, "with Jiang Zemin as its centre", hopes to derive considerable benefit from the event: to go down in history as the one who erased the last trace of the humiliations inflicted by the West on the Middle Kingdom from the 19th century onwards. However, after the euphoria of the nationalist high mass on 1 July, the handover is likely to turn into a difficult ordeal. Because no matter how much China repeats that any problem will therefore be an internal problem, the eyes of the world will be fixed on the territory.