From colony to communism: what the people think

The Student: Dorothy Yit, 24, is completing a degree in art at the University of Hong Kong.

I'M pleased about the handover, because I think Hong Kong people will regain their national identity, which they missed under British rule. Despite not feeling British, there were advantages in being ruled by them, not least because of the large degree of freedom. Under China, I believe people will not have as much freedom as they are used to, particularly in newspapers and when they want to protest. C H Tung [Hong Kong's new Chief Executive] doesn't have the free will to speak his mind. I have considered leaving. Failing this, I would like to hold a foreign passport for safety. If things did get worse, I would want to leave.

THE RESTAURANT MANAGER: George, early fifties, runs a restaurant in Wanchai.

THE thing I fear most is that after the territory is handed back, we will lose some of the freedoms we have enjoyed. Unlike many people, I did like Hong Kong being under the control of Britain. It understood how free societies work, and its hands-off style of management suited the territory and helped it to thrive. I hope that the new administration will be able to protect it as much as possible. I for one am not keen on living under Chinese control again - just as I would never want to go back to the mainland. I think Hong Kong has so much more to offer, and it would be sad to see what it has built up just go. A good thing about the handover is we get five days off. I am going away for a holiday.

THE BUSINESSWOMAN IN CHINA: Ivy Chow, 41, moved four years ago from Hong Kong to Peking, where she heads the China operations ofrecruitment consultants, Norman Broadbent.

I WAS looking for some real China experience. There was culture shock in certain aspects, such as people's ideas. In Hong Kong we never had the idea that the government looked after us. And there are frustrations in working here . I am excited about the handover but cautious too. I do not think China will do anything to upset Hong Kong.

THE OLD HAND: John Walden, 72, retired in 1981 after 30 years with Hong Kong civil service.

I FELT we should have a higher purpose than simply enabling everyone to make money, but I didn't get much support. Before my retirement I spoke out about the need for greater accountability. I would leave if I felt there was nothing more I could do to protect people's freedom. It upsets me that Hong Kong is being handed over without the means to protect itself.

Interviews by Sam Coates, Teresa Poole and Raymond Whitaker

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