'Step right up to witness the freakiest political system in the world, a mutant hybrid so bizarre you have to read this book to believe it.' -- Hugo Restall, Editor, Far Eastern Economic Review. Since its transfer from Britain to China in 1997, Hong Kong has faced a succession of mishaps, traumas and quandaries. Bird flu, SARS, recession, demonstrations, intervention by Beijing, economic distortions, cronyism, pollution and overdevelopment have created a sense that the city is losing its uniqueness, confidence, glamour and livability. Hong Kong's people, businesses and policymakers have become fearful of competition, change and the future. Social harmony has given way to fracture along antagonistic political and economic lines. This volume recounts the decline in the city's governance, spirit and ambition in the years following the handover. It links up the political, economic and constitutional structures that have led to weak policymaking, misallocation of public resources, favouritism towards vested interests and public anxiety and resentment. And it asks whether and how Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty can get back on track and achieve its full potential as Asia's greatest city. Hemlock is the nom de plume of a western-born Hong Kong taxpayer and voter who has lived in the city for most of his working life -- since the countdown to the handover started in the mid-1980s. For much of that time he served as a factotum to several prominent figures in both business and politics.