Now I know how Singapore must have felt when Hong Kong hammered them 164-13 at the 1994 Asian tournament in Kuala Lumpur. Watching the Hong Kong Dragons being thrashed 67-3 by China in the curtain-raiser to the Pac Rim game on Saturday brought memories flooding back. When Hong Kong smashed Singapore to post the all-time highest score in international rugby - still the record - it was nothing to crow about. For, at the time, Hong Kong had already been knocked out of the final by South Korea, and the try-spree against the minnows of Asia was but a show of frustration by the expatriate Hong Kong team. One felt sorry for Singapore. They were chaff blown around in a typhoon. The downcast faces as they made the trek from their tryline to the halfway mark for the kick-off after each of the 26 tries - Ashley Billington playing at fullback scored a record 10 tries - spoke volumes. On Saturday, a similar scene was played out. Only this time the victims were Hong Kong - the local Dragons team, who are the real standard-bearers of the game in town. China, recent recruits to the game, were merciless as they ran in 11 lovely tries, some of which really took the breath away. The Hong Kong Dragons were out-thought, outplayed and out-of-place. One couldn't but be hit with the irony of the situation; the products of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's (HKRFU) 10-year development programme being caned by rugby neophytes. The Dragons tried creditably. But lack of bulk and even tactical nous left them aimlessly adrift, just like those Singaporeans many years ago. The boot was on the other foot. Quo Vadis Hong Kong rugby? Yes. Where do we go on from here? Where does our future lie? A question which even Mike Francis, a longstanding and respected local fan, asked on Saturday. 'One wonders where our future lies? The development programme just does not seem to be producing enough players . . . the system also does not allow it,' said Francis, a former Hong Kong captain. Hong Kong will not be as easily discouraged as Singapore were after that thrashing - the result of that massive loss saw Singapore not turning up at the next Asian tournament. But how do we progress from here? Let's be realistic. Hopefully we might do better in the second game against China this coming Saturday. But the truth is that a local Chinese team, even if bolstered by a couple of Hong Kong-born 'foreign' players like Robin Bredbury or Dave Lewis, are not really going to be able to contest for a medal at December's Asian Games. This is the target of the HKRFU. Coach Norman Russell and his team are trying valiantly. But I feel they are up against it. China showed us up, in no uncertain terms. At this level, the likes of Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and even China will be in the running for a medal at the Bangkok Games, where rugby is being played for the first time. As for Hong Kong, the future looks bleak. China have showed that they have the real capability of becoming the future rugby force in Asia, mainly because of their numbers and a system which foster sports. Maybe Hong Kong rugby's future will lie in tying itself more closely with the Chinese Rugby Football Association. Oops! I'm sorry if that caused anyone in the Union to spill their hot coffee. But let's face it. Either the Union comes out and totally supports an expat-based system - which it has not done, as seen by its pompous treatment of the local clubs last season - or it should step up links with China. The halfway house of trying to bring on the game locally is doomed to failure. The signs were there for all to see on Saturday.