Characterizing the British crown colony as ""one of the most contradictory and baffling places in the contemporary world"". journalist Gleason (Cleveland Plain Dealer and New York Herald Tribune) launches into a complete profile of Hong Kong's history, geography, demography, political complexion, tourist advantages, and two-sided role in world affairs. Of that role, he has the most to say: on the one hand, Hong Kong side-stepped out of the path of economic collapse after the Korean War embargoes by exchanging commerce for industry until now her manufacturers compete vehemently on the world market; on the other, she has become dangerously overpopulated with the burden of hordes of legal- and illegal-entry refugees from Red China, toward whom the free world has a certain sense of obligation. Juggling all the aspects of such a position, the British government has managed to preserve a rule of law and conditions somewhat above the general average for that part of the world. Having begun as the unembarrassed center of the opium trade, Hong Kong's rise to respectability has had an element of fantasy and romanticism about it which Gleason handles with ingenuity. The question of renewal of Britain's 99-year lease on the territory, due to come up in 1997, is included in the last chapter, with the forecast that Red China will renew it after using the issue to press for desired concessions.