Britain and China have begun to send official invitations to about 40 countries and 35 international organisations for them to attend the ceremony to mark the return of Hong Kong to China, according to informed sources. The 400 VIPs, who are expected to be foreign ministers and heads of global bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, will be among the 4,000 guests to be invited to the ceremony on the night of June 30, a source said. The source said the invitations have been made through diplomatic channels to the respective foreign ministers. It would be up to the foreign governments to decide who should take part in the ceremony, he said. It is understood Britain and China would invite about 1,500 guests each to the June 30 ceremony. The British delegation will include key players in the handover of Hong Kong such as former prime minister Baroness Thatcher and former foreign secretaries Lord Howe and Douglas Hurd. Former ministers and advisers in charge of Hong Kong affairs as well as former British ambassadors to China will also be invited. The source said the Joint Liaison Group had reached a broad agreement on the guest list at a plenum in London last month. The Queen will be represented by Prince Charles. It is expected, however, that his protocol equivalent, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, will not arrive in the territory until July 1, possibly with premier Li Peng. China has yet to announce who will officiate at the handover ceremony. A four-hour epic on the history of Hong Kong and a carnival in Happy Valley will be staged in the evening of June 30. Organiser Dr Raymond Wu Wai-yung said the epic historical show at the Cultural Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui, would tell the story of Hong Kong's struggle for success. The handover ceremony at the Convention and Exhibition Centre extension across the harbour would become part of the performance. At the same time there will be a carnival at Happy Valley racecourse with marching, dragon and lion dances. On the evening of July 1, a cultural extravaganza will be staged at the handover ceremony venue. The highlight of the evening will be the first performance of Tan Tun's 1997 Symphony, followed by Yo-yo Ma's cello recital.