President Jiang Zemin， Premier Li Peng， Distinguished Guests， Ladies and Gentlemen：
This important and special ceremony marks a moment of both change and continuity in Hong Kong's history. It marks， first of all， the restoration of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China， under the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984， after more than 150 years of British administration.
This ceremony also celebrates continuity because， by that same treaty and the many subsequent agreements which have been made to implement its provisions， the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will have its own government， and retain its own society， its own economy and its own way of life. I should like to pay tribute this evening to those who turned the concept of “one country， two systems” into the Joint Declaration， and to the dedication and commitment of those who have worked so hard over the last thirteen years to negotiate the details of the Joint Declaration's implementation. But most of all I should like to pay tribute to the people of Hong Kong themselves for all that they have achieved in the last century and a half. The triumphant success of Hong Kong demands - and deserves - to be maintained.
Hong Kong has shown the world how dynamism and stability can be defining characteristics of a successful society. These have together created a great economy which is the envy of the world. Hong Kong has shown the world how East and West can live and work together. As a flourishing commercial and cultural cross-roads， it has brought us together and enriched all our lives.
Thirteen years ago the Governments of the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China recognised in the Joint Declaration that these special elements which had created the crucial conditions for Hong Kong's success should continue. They agreed that， in order to maintain that success， Hong Kong should have its own separate trading and financial systems， enjoy autonomy and an elected legislature， maintain its laws and liberties， and be run by the people of Hong Kong and be accountable to them. Those special elements have served Hong Kong well over the past two decades. Hong Kong has coped with the challenges of great economic， social and political transition with almost none of the disturbance and dislocation which in other parts of the world have so often accompanied change on such a scale.
The United Kingdom has been proud and privileged to have had responsibility for the people of Hong Kong， to have provided a framework of opportunity in which Hong Kong has so conspicuously succeeded， and to have been part of the success which the people of Hong Kong have made of their opportunities.
In a few moments， the United Kingdom's responsibilities will pass to the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong will thereby be restored to China and， within the framework of “one country， two systems”， it will continue to have a strong identity of its own and be an important international partner for many countries in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen， China will tonight take responsibility for a place and a people which matter greatly to us all. The solemn pledges made before the world in the 1984 Joint Declaration guarantee the continuity of Hong Kong's way of life. For its part the United Kingdom will maintain its unwavering support for the Joint Declaration. Our commitment and our strong links to Hong Kong will continue， and will， I am confident， flourish， as Hong Kong and its people themselves continue to flourish.
Distinguished Guests， Ladies and Gentlemen， I should like on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen and of the entire British people to express our thanks， admiration， affection， and good wishes to all the people of Hong Kong， who have been such staunch and special friends over so many generations. We shall not forget you， and we shall watch with the closest interest as you embark on this new era of your remarkable history.