I have been labelled by the foreign and local media as an 'unbridled optimist'. For a while there I thought I was in the minority, silent or vocal, since most of the people the press thought worth interviewing tended to predict the imminent doom of Hong Kong. We were supposed to self-destruct last year. But when that did not happen, the date of calamity was postponed to early this year. Like the 'end is nigh' apocalyptic cultists, the pessimists are fixated by their prophecies and cannot square with reality, whatever the facts. What then are the facts? With about 110 days left to the transition, our stock market is booming, our property sector is buoyant (some say too buoyant) and the influx of returning emigrants and new settlers more than outpaces the exodus. An already gladdening, for me, picture has been made rosier with Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa endorsing all senior civil servants in their present posts to much public applause. This has been given a further gloss by Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen about to present a very upbeat budget. Gross Domestic Product growth is forecast at 5.5 per cent for the final transitional year, a notable improvement on 1996, unemployment should be less than three per cent with labour shortage in some sectors, and another surplus is in the offing. Events in China are no less encouraging. Though the patriarch Deng Xiaoping is gone, his legacy is assured as the leadership in China repeatedly promises to modernise and to adhere in spirit and to the letter the offer of 'one country, two systems' for Hong Kong. The pledge has been so sedulously observed that the chief executive's submission of his senior civil service list to the central government for approval became a formality. Even those officials whom the media had speculated would not be acceptable were sent on the through train with the conductor hardly glancing at their tickets. When the provisional legislature president elect went to China to discuss local matters, her hosts replied with a nonchalant wave that they were not interested since Hong Kong had to be responsible for its own domestic affairs. As China enters a new era, mainland leaders have begun to assert themselves. They are now considering whether to sign two international human rights conventions, accede to the difficult entry terms of the World Trade Organisation, and modify their laws, civil, criminal and commercial to open up the country even more. We in Hong Kong who have benefited so much from the reforms started by Deng would be spurred on to greater glory as China continues to advance. Fewer restrictions on foreign companies to tap into the Chinese market, more relaxed regulations on the repatriation of profits, reduced tariffs, a gradually convertible yuan, mainland laws that are more compatible with ours and lessened Sino-US tensions to be heralded by the summit between Jiang Zemin and Bill Clinton ought to be a boon. What fuels my optimism about Hong Kong, though, is far more than the cumulative effect of modifications in policy, here and in China. I am sanguine about the future for three reasons. I have unflagging faith in the good sense of the Chinese people in their quest for a materially and spiritually more rewarding existence. I have the same confidence in the people of Hong Kong in turning ours into the greatest city and in our reciprocating to China's show of trust by keeping our end of the bargain in 'one country, two systems', implicit in which is mutual non-interference. I also have a similar degree of respect for the American political judgment to engage China so that, through contact and dialogue, both powers can ensure global stability and serve their complementary national interests.