Shenzhen plans a host of events to celebrate the Hong Kong handover, the mayor announced yesterday. A midnight fireworks display on June 30 would be the star attraction, Li Zibin said. He said the city had been spending many hours preparing for the change of sovereignty, the benefits of which would be felt on both sides of the border. The Shenzhen Special Economic Zone first drew up plans for the fireworks display last September. Other celebrations include a flower show, a photographic exhibition and a big variety show on July 1. While the mayor spoke enthusiastically about the celebration plans, he was evasive about problems plaguing Shenzhen, including an increase in cross-border crime. But he said police had rounded up more than 2,000 drifters, beggars and prostitutes who were not authorised to live in the zone, to improve the city's appearance. Shenzhen is notorious for its professional beggars and 'flower girls'. Local gangsters are said to control them and they prey on sympathetic tourists near sites like the railway station for money. Police had also started expelling people overstaying their visas, the mayor said. Asked what measures the municipal Government would undertake to combat cross-border crime, Shenzhen Public Security Bureau vice-director Sun Biao said only that it would follow the law. Both officials declined to comment on issues such as the smuggling of mainlanders into Hong Kong or the infiltration of Hong Kong and Taiwan triads into Shenzhen. The mayor denied smuggling was rampant in the zone and claimed law and order had improved in the past two years. He said the number of criminal offences had dropped 9.6 per cent last year compared with 1995.