As with colonial transition elsewhere, the language patterns in Hong Kong have changed with the return of sovereignty to China. Biglossia (whereby Hong Kong Cantonese and English predominate) is shifting to triglossia, as Putonghua, the official language of the People's Republic of China, has become increasingly important. This paper focuses on the impact of colonial transition and in particular the emergence of Putonghua and on the language subjects in the primary and secondary school curricula in Hong Kong. It argues that, whilst the rationale for promoting Putonghua is logical, tensions are evident in the school curricula, most notably in two areas. Firstly, the curricula were already heavily biased in favour of language subjects and, secondly, the necessary teaching expertise for Putonghua is not readily available. Copyright © 1997 Carfax Publishing Ltd.