Chris Patten

In this excerpt from his new book, the city’s last governor reveals how he really felt in the run-up to the handover as Britain prepared for the transfer of sovereignty to China.

Hong Kong's democracy movement has gained admiration worldwide. The principles, decency and behaviour of its youthful vanguard inspire confidence in the qualities of the generation that one day will run the great city.

It is not wholly true to say that the eyes of the entire world are on Hong Kong. They would be, of course, if people in mainland China were allowed to know what is happening in their country's most successful city.

The people of Scotland voted by a comfortable margin of about 10 per cent to remain part of the United Kingdom - not least because of the campaigning of three Labour politicians, Alastair Darling, Gordon Brown and Jim Murphy.

On July 1, 17 years ago, I was sailing on Britain's royal yacht away from Hong Kong where, at midnight the previous day, China assumed sovereignty under the terms of an international agreement with the United Kingdom known as the Joint Declaration.