Chinese are given a glimpse of the forbidden city of HK

A lengthening queue, and rumours that tickets had been sold out, had made the waiting Chinese anxious. So when a tout appeared, she was was almost knocked over as punters tried to elbow through to her.

Was this a Chinese national football match about to start, or a rush for New Year train tickets? No, it was the hot show on offer this Easter weekend in Peking, "The Hong Kong Fair: Greeting the Return of the Territory to China", a four-day exhibition designed to introduce the history, culture and companies to an eager mainland audience.

Hong Kong's reunification with the motherland is 92 days away, so a Pekinger's thoughts turn to the prospect of visiting China's new possession after the handover.

But after 1 July Chinese will find it just as difficult as ever to get permits to visit. So the weekend offered the next best thing: Hong Kong came to China, with exhibits on everything from food to Jackie Chan films, to models of the new airport railway. When the exhibition opened on Friday, there was near-pandemonium as the thousands with tickets fought to get into Peking's World Trade Centre hall.

The Chinese and Hong Kong governments agreed that a permit system will operate after 1 July for mainland tourists and businessmen. At least that is the theory. But most Chinese are still unaware the new Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is supposed to be just as off-limits to mainlanders as it was as a British colony.

Dai Dongsheng, an undergraduate at the Peking Institute of Technology, said: "I believe after the return ... the policy of Hong Kong will be quite open and it will be easy to go there." He will work in Shenzhen, just across the border and had come "to find out more about what it is like in Hong Kong".

China has only just started to educate people about how inalienable sovereignty is one thing but freedom to explore Hong Kong is another. Those aware of some restrictions are generally confident they will qualify. Peng Kan, 21, training to be a government official, said: "Yes, I should be able to go. I think I have the qualifications to go there but that does not mean anyone can go there freely." After this weekend's show, more people than ever will probably want to try.

Mainland views vary about their Hong Kong compatriots. Qi Xiaodong, 37, who works for the Technical Association of the Paper Industry, had just returned from a month visiting relatives. "The environment ... is different, so the concepts of Hong Kong people are also different. For example, the way they deal with other people; on the Hong Kong buses, no one will give up a seat to the elderly or a lady." What else had he noticed?

"The Hong Kong newspapers are all quite open. You can have free speech. Most reports are quite objective, but there are also some biased reports."

The more regimented habits of mainlanders were in evidence along a downstairs corridor, where a banner from the Henan Teachers University, brought to Peking last summer, was hanging for people to add their signatures and messages to the 10,000 names already there. It read: "Welcome the Return of Hong Kong, Create a Splendid Future".

Visitors had pens at the ready to add their names to the crowded canvas. Not a joke nor any graffiti was there to be seen.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsSchool leaver's pic YouTube video features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

M&E Construction Planning Manager: Surrey

£60000 - £90000 per annum + Car, Pension, Healthcare: Progressive Recruitment:...

M&E Construction Planner Solihull

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Car, Healthcare, Pensions: Progressive Recruitment...

PHP Developer - MySQL, RDBMS, Application Development

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: PHP Developer - MySQL, RDBMS, Applicatio...

SAP Business Analyst - Data Migration, £75,000, Manchester

£60000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP B...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star