The resumption of Chinese sovereignty was evident in Hong Kong as soldiers of the People's Liberation Army rolled across the border.

The former British colony was supposed to be in party mode but severe rain put a damper on things as several open air events were cancelled. At a football stadium, there was a Budhist prayer gathering attended by Hong Kong's top politician Tung Chee-hwa who spent the day stressing the importance of retaining religious and civil liberties, and the need to keep the region as the freest economy in the world.

However, some were not convinced as an estimated ten thousand protesters marched through the streets demanding local democracy. This was also a test to the new regime's commitment to preserving Hong Kong's liberties. Some protesters carried banners calling for the end to one-party rule in Beijing. 

The head of Beijing's one-party President Jiang Zemin stressed China's commitment to maintaining Hong Kong's capitalist economy and political freedom and even went as far as to suggest that the executive's job would one day be filled by popular election. 

RTÉ News spoke to members of the public on the streets of Hong Kong about the changes but many were indifferent. 

It's a public holiday here but there's little festive feeling in the streets.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 1 July 1997. The reporter is Sean Whelan.