Not with the biggest of bangs, perhaps, but at least without a whimper, a joint ceremony will be held to mark the handover of Hong Kong to China in nine months' time. Happily, Britain and China have reached an agreement which brings to an end months of uncertainty, and sets a seal on the new spirit of accord which people are led to believe now prevails between the two sides. Of all the disputes that have bedevilled the path towards Hong Kong's transition, none seemed so trivial as the row about the handover night arrangements. At last, that is over, and, with continuing goodwill, both parties can put past bickering behind them. In the mutually acceptable scheme produced by the negotiators, the ceremony will be low key, simple, and dignified, marking the end of an era in an appropriate way. That is only right. At times, it had looked as if the rift between the two sides was so deep that they would not even be able to stand together on the same platform. If that situation had arisen, it would have sent a damaging message to the world, and would have set entirely the wrong tone for the new epoch in the territory's history. Thankfully for everyone in Hong Kong, China and Britain, diplomacy and common sense has won the day. That is a far better augury for the future, even if it is useless to pretend that the smiles and handshakes exchanged between the two parties on June 30 will be totally heartfelt. Deep divisions remain, and there is no point in glossing over them. Indeed, they should be recognised and discussed in as great depth as possible in the coming nine months - not as intractable points of discord but for the benefit of Hong Kong's future way of life. As far as the handover ceremony is concerned, animosities should be put to one side, and normal courtesies observed. The handover will be a momentous event, a unique occasion. The eyes of the world will be turned towards Hong Kong on that day, and for months afterwards. The manner and atmosphere in which the ceremonies on June 30 and July 1 are conducted will say much about how the territory is going to meet its future. The latest agreement is a step in the right direction.