Hong Kong 1997 - only a few short months of British rule remain before the territory returns to Chinese rule. It's a febrile place. And in that claustrophobic environment of uncertainty and fear the spooks are hard at work, jostling for position and influence. So when an elderly man emerges from the seas off the New Territories, claiming to know secrets he will share only with the Governor himself, a young MI6 agent, Joe Lennox, sees an opportunity to make his reputation.
But when the old man, a high-profile Chinese professor, is spirited away in the middle of the night by Joe's superiors, in collusion with the CIA, it's clear that there's a great deal more than a young spy's career at stake. The professor, it seems, holds the key to a sinister and ambitious plan that could have awesome and catastrophic repercussions for China in the 21st century.