Whether by waving the national flag, watching the fireworks or attending a parade which attracted 10,000 people, National Day was celebrated in Hong Kong last week in a style which seemed to underline our city's patriotism. Yet six years after our return to Chinese sovereignty, concerns continue to be expressed about a failure to instil in our people a strong enough sense of national identity. We are not talking about the patriotism debate prompted by the mass demonstration on July 1. The march had nothing to do with love for China, or a lack of it. It was prompted entirely by a desire to express discontent with the government of Hong Kong. The question relates more to the way we see ourselves. Since the handover, surveys have generally shown that an increasing number of our residents identify with being Chinese, rather than Hongkongers. While there will be fluctuations, this trend is likely to continue and the day when the majority see themselves as Chinese is surely not too far away. Yet worries persist that Hong Kong people - and particularly the younger generation - have yet to develop strong feelings for their country. A poll of more than 4,500 secondary school students last week showed considerable apathy towards the mainland. And the government has felt it necessary to launch an educational programme intended to promote a greater sense of national pride. The identity problem is not new one for Hong Kong - it is a product of our history. The city's development under colonial rule naturally led members of our Chinese population to regard themselves as different to people on the mainland. In many ways, they are. But the sense of being a Hong Kong person is not inconsistent with feeling Chinese. Nor should it be any obstacle to taking pride in the nation's traditions, culture or achievements. The two can - and do - coexist. As integration with the mainland continues to gather pace, the differences on either side of the border will become less pronounced. As that occurs, the attitudes of Hong Kong people towards the mainland will inevitably change. This is already happening. It can be seen in polls here which show a high level of trust being placed in the nation's leaders - indeed higher than that currently enjoyed by Hong Kong's own government. It is a trend which should be allowed to develop naturally. Promoting civic education and a greater understanding of all things Chinese is a worthy activity. But the desire to build a greater sense of national identity should not detract from the multicultural and diverse nature of Hong Kong is one of our city's strengths. Our sense of national identity is growing all the time - but it should be one which has Hong Kong characteristics.