Anthem: "God Save the Queen"
Map of Hong Kong
(before 30 June 1997)
British Dependent Territory
|Capital||Victoria (de facto)|
• 1936–1941, 1945–1952
|Sir Henry Pottinger (first)|
|Chris Patten (last)|
|George Malcolm (first)|
|Anson Chan (last)|
|Historical era||Victorian era to 20th century|
|26 January 1841|
|29 August 1842|
|18 October 1860|
|9 June 1898|
|25 December 1941|
to 30 August 1945
|30 June 1997|
|80.4 km2 (31.0 sq mi)|
|1,042 km2 (402 sq mi)|
• 1996 estimate
|5,796/km2 (15,011.6/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||1996 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||1996 estimate|
• Per capita
|Gini (1996)|| 51.8 |
|HDI (1995)|| 0.808 |
Hong Kong dollar
|Today part of|| China |
∟ Hong Kong
|British Hong Kong|
Hong Kong was a colony and dependent territory of the British Empire from 1841 to 1997, apart from a brief period under Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945. The colonial period began with the occupation of Hong Kong Island in 1841 during the First Opium War. The island was ceded by the Qing Empire in the aftermath of the war in 1842 and established as a Crown colony in 1843. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War and was further extended when the UK obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898.
Although Hong Kong Island and Kowloon were ceded in perpetuity, the leased New Territories comprised the vast majority of the total area. Britain did not see any viable way to divide the colony, while the People's Republic of China would not consider extending the lease or allowing British administration thereafter. With the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which states that the social and economic systems in Hong Kong would remain unchanged for 50 years, the UK agreed to release the entire territory to China upon the expiration of the New Territories lease in 1997.
The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (July 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
In 1836, the Manchu Qing government undertook a major policy review of the opium trade, which had been first introduced to the Chinese by Persian then Islamic traders over many centuries.Viceroy Lin Zexu took on the task of suppressing the opium trade. In March 1839, he became Special Imperial Commissioner in Canton, where he ordered the foreign traders to surrender their opium stock. He confined the British to the Canton Factories and cut off their supplies. Chief Superintendent of Trade, Charles Elliot, complied with Lin's demands to secure a safe exit for the British, with the costs involved to be resolved between the two governments. When Elliot promised that the British government would pay for their opium stock, the merchants surrendered their 20,283 chests of opium, which were destroyed in public.
In September 1839, the British Cabinet decided that the Chinese should be made to pay for the destruction of British property, either by the threat or use of force. An expeditionary force was placed under Elliot and his cousin, Rear-Admiral George Elliot, as joint plenipotentiaries in 1840. Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston stressed to the Chinese government that the British government did not question China's right to prohibit opium, but it objected to the way this was handled.He viewed the sudden strict enforcement as laying a trap for the foreign traders, and the confinement of the British with supplies cut off was tantamount to starving them into submission or death. He instructed the Elliot cousins to occupy one of the Chusan Islands in the Hangzhou Bay delta across from Shanghai, then to present a letter from himself to a Chinese official for the Emperor, then to proceed to the Gulf of Bohai for a treaty, and if the Chinese resisted, then to blockade the key ports of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers. Palmerston demanded a territorial base in the Chusan Islands for trade so that British merchants "may not be subject to the arbitrary caprice either of the Government of Peking, or its local Authorities at the Sea-Ports of the Empire".
In 1841, Elliot negotiated with Lin's successor, Qishan, in the Convention of Chuenpi during the First Opium War. On 20 January, Elliot announced "the conclusion of preliminary arrangements", which included the cession of the then-barren Hong Kong Island and its harbour to the British Crown. [ page needed ] Elliot chose Hong Kong Island instead of Chusan because he believed a settlement nearer to Shanghai would cause an "indefinite protraction of hostilities", whereas Hong Kong Island's harbour was a valuable base for the British trading community in Canton. British rule began with the occupation of the island on 26 January. Commodore Gordon Bremer, commander-in-chief of British forces in China, took formal possession of the island at Possession Point, where the Union Jack was raised under a fire of joy from the marines and a royal salute from the warships. Hong Kong Island was ceded in the Treaty of Nanking on 29 August 1842 and established as a Crown colony after ratification was exchanged on 26 June 1843.
The treaty failed to satisfy British expectations of a major expansion of trade and profit, which led to increasing pressure for a revision of the terms.In October 1856, Chinese authorities in Canton detained the Arrow, a Chinese-owned ship registered in Hong Kong to enjoy protection of the British flag. The Consul in Canton, Harry Parkes, claimed the hauling down of the flag and arrest of the crew were "an insult of very grave character". Parkes and Sir John Bowring, the 4th Governor of Hong Kong, seized the incident to pursue a forward policy. In March 1857, Palmerston appointed Lord Elgin as Plenipotentiary with the aim of securing a new and satisfactory treaty. A French expeditionary force joined the British to avenge the execution of a French missionary in 1856. In 1860, the capture of the Taku Forts and occupation of Beijing led to the Treaty of Tientsin and Convention of Peking. In the Treaty of Tientsin, the Chinese accepted British demands to open more ports, navigate the Yangtze River, legalise the opium trade and have diplomatic representation in Beijing. During the conflict, the British occupied the Kowloon Peninsula, where the flat land was valuable training and resting ground. The area in what is now south of Boundary Street and Stonecutters Island was ceded in the Convention of Peking.
In 1898, the British sought to extend Hong Kong for defence. After negotiations began in April 1898, with the British Minister in Beijing, Sir Claude MacDonald, representing Britain, and diplomat Li Hongzhang leading the Chinese, the Second Convention of Peking was signed on 9 June. Since the foreign powers had agreed by the late 19th century that it was no longer permissible to acquire outright sovereignty over any parcel of Chinese territory, and in keeping with the other territorial cessions China made to Russia, Germany and France that same year, the extension of Hong Kong took the form of a 99-year lease. The lease consisted of the rest of Kowloon south of the Sham Chun River and 230 islands, which became known as the New Territories. The British formally took possession on 16 April 1899.
In 1941, during the Second World War, the British reached an agreement with the Chinese government under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek that if Japan attacked Hong Kong, the Chinese National Army would attack the Japanese from the rear to relieve pressure on the British garrison. On 8 December, the Battle of Hong Kong began when Japanese air bombers effectively destroyed British air power in one attack.Two days later, the Japanese breached the Gin Drinkers Line in the New Territories. The British commander, Major-General Christopher Maltby, concluded that the island could not be defended for long unless he withdrew his brigade from the mainland. On 18 December, the Japanese crossed Victoria Harbour. By 25 December, organised defence was reduced into pockets of resistance. Maltby recommended a surrender to Governor Sir Mark Young, who accepted his advice to reduce further losses. A day after the invasion, Chiang ordered three corps under General Yu Hanmou to march towards Hong Kong. The plan was to launch a New Year's Day attack on the Japanese in the Canton region, but before the Chinese infantry could attack, the Japanese had broken Hong Kong's defences. The British casualties were 2,232 killed or missing and 2,300 wounded. The Japanese reported 1,996 killed and 6,000 wounded.
The Japanese soldiers committed atrocities, including rape, on many locals. million in 1941 to 750,000 at war's end because of fleeing refugees; they returned in 1945.The population fell in half, from 1.6
The Japanese imprisoned the ruling British colonial elite and sought to win over the local merchant gentry by appointments to advisory councils and neighbourhood watch groups. The policy worked well for Japan and produced extensive collaboration from both the elite and the middle class, with far less terror than in other Chinese cities. Hong Kong was transformed into a Japanese colony, with Japanese businesses replacing the British. However, the Japanese Empire had severe logistical difficulties and by 1943 the food supply for Hong Kong was problematic. The overlords became more brutal and corrupt, and the Chinese gentry became disenchanted. With the surrender of Japan, the transition back to British rule was smooth, for on the mainland the Nationalist and Communist forces were preparing for a civil war and ignored Hong Kong. In the long run the occupation strengthened the pre-war social and economic order among the Chinese business community by eliminating some conflicts of interests and reducing the prestige and power of the British.
On 14 August 1945, when Japan announced its unconditional surrender, the British formed a naval task group to sail towards Hong Kong.On 1 September, Rear-Admiral Cecil Harcourt proclaimed a military administration with himself as its head. He formally accepted the Japanese surrender on 16 September in Government House. Young, upon his return as governor in May 1946, pursued political reform known as the "Young Plan", believing that, to counter the Chinese government's determination to recover Hong Kong, it was necessary to give local inhabitants a greater stake in the territory by widening the political franchise to include them.
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The Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed by both the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Premier of the People's Republic of China on 19 December 1984 in Beijing. The Declaration entered into force with the exchange of instruments of ratification on 27 May 1985 and was registered by the People's Republic of China and United Kingdom governments at the United Nations on 12 June 1985. In the Joint Declaration, the People's Republic of China Government stated that it had decided to resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong (including Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories) with effect from 1 July 1997 and the United Kingdom Government declared that it would relinquish Hong Kong to the PRC with effect from 1 July 1997. In the document, the People's Republic of China Government also declared its basic policies regarding Hong Kong.
In accordance with the One Country, Two Systems principle agreed between the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China, the socialist system of People's Republic of China would not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and Hong Kong's previous capitalist system and its way of life would remain unchanged for a period of 50 years. The Joint Declaration provides that these basic policies shall be stipulated in the Hong Kong Basic Law. The ceremony of the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration took place at 18:00, 19 December 1984 at the Western Main Chamber of the Great Hall of the People. The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office at first proposed a list of 60–80 Hong Kong people to attend the ceremony. The number was finally extended to 101. The list included Hong Kong government officials, members of the Legislative and Executive Councils, chairmen of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and Standard Chartered Bank, Hong Kong celebrities such as Li Ka-shing, Pao Yue-kong and Fok Ying-tung, and also Martin Lee Chu-ming and Szeto Wah.
The handover ceremony was held at the new wing of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai on the night of 30 June 1997. The principal British guest was Charles, Prince of Wales who read a farewell speech on behalf of the Queen. The newly appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, the British Foreign Minister, Robin Cook, the departing Hong Kong governor, Chris Patten, Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom, Field Marshal Sir Charles Guthrie, also attended.
Representing China were the President of the People's Republic of China, Jiang Zemin, Premier of the People's Republic of China, Li Peng, and Tung Chee-hwa, the first Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. This event was broadcast on television and radio stations across the world.
Hong Kong was a Crown colony of the United Kingdom and maintained an administration roughly modelled after the Westminster system. The Letters Patent formed the constitutional basis of the colonial government and the Royal Instructions detailed how the territory should be governed and organised.
The Governor was the head of government and appointed by the British monarch to serve as the representative of the Crown in the colony. Executive power was highly concentrated with the Governor, who himself appointed almost all members of the Legislative Council and Executive Council and also served as President of both chambers.The British government provided oversight for the colonial government; the Foreign Secretary formally approved any additions to the Legislative and Executive Councils and the Sovereign held sole authority to amend the Letters Patent and Royal Instructions.
The Executive Council determined administrative policy changes and considered primary legislation before passing it to the Legislative Council for approval. This advisory body also itself issued secondary legislation under a limited set of colonial ordinances. The Legislative Council debated proposed legislation and was responsible for the appropriation of public funds. This chamber was reformed in the last years of colonial rule to introduce more democratic representation.Indirectly elected functional constituency seats were introduced in 1985 and popularly elected geographical constituency seats in 1991. Further electoral reform in 1994 effectively made the legislature broadly representative. The administrative Civil Service was led by the Colonial Secretary (later Chief Secretary), who was deputy to the Governor.
The judicial system was based on English law, with Chinese customary law taking a secondary role in civil cases involving Chinese residents.The Supreme Court of Hong Kong was the highest court and ruled on all civil and criminal cases in the colony. During the early colonial period, extraterritorial appellate cases from other regions of China involving British subjects were also tried in this court. Further appeals from the Supreme Court were heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which exercised final adjudication over the entire British Empire.
In 1861, Governor Sir Hercules Robinson introduced the Hong Kong Cadetship, which recruited young graduates from Britain to learn Cantonese and written Chinese for two years, before deploying them on a fast track to the Civil Service. Cadet officers gradually formed the backbone of the civil administration. After the Second World War, ethnic Chinese were allowed into the service, followed by women. Cadets were renamed Administrative Officers in the 1950s, and they remained the elite of the Civil Service during British rule.
The stability, security, and predictability of British law and government enabled Hong Kong to flourish as a centre for international trade.In the colony's first decade, the revenue from the opium trade was a key source of government funds. The importance of opium reduced over time, but the colonial government was dependent on its revenues until the Japanese occupation in 1941. Although the largest businesses in the early colony were operated by British, American, and other expatriates, Chinese workers provided the bulk of the manpower to build a new port city.
By the late 1980s, many ethnic Chinese people had become major business figures in Hong Kong. Amongst these billionaires was Sir Li Ka-shing, who had become one of the colony's wealthiest people by this time.
During China's turbulent 20th century, Hong Kong served as a safe haven for dissidents, political refugees, and officials who lost power. British policy allowed dissidents to live in Hong Kong as long as they did not break local laws or harm British interests. The implementation of this policy varied according to what the senior officials thought constituted British interests and the state of relations with China.The Canton–Hong Kong strike (1925–1926) was anti-imperialist in nature. The 1966 riots and Maoist-led 1967 riots, essentially spillovers from the Cultural Revolution, were large scale demonstrations fuelled by tensions surrounding labour disputes and dissatisfaction towards the government. Although the 1967 riots started as a labour dispute, the incident escalated quickly after the leftist camp and mainland officials stationed in Hong Kong seized the opportunity to mobilise their followers to protest against the colonial government. Chinese Communist members organised the Anti-British Struggle Committee during the riots.
Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, wrote that it was "ironic" that despite Hong Kong being a symbol of China's humiliation by Britain, there was not one major movement started by the Chinese residents of the colony for its retrocession to China, even though there had been several upsurges of Chinese nationalism.He explained:
In the 1920s, the working class Chinese of Hong Kong did not have a good reason to rally around the Hong Kong government, and they were more susceptible to appeals based on Chinese nationalism. Consequently, the call of the Communists was basically heeded by the working men, and their actions practically paralysed the colony for a year. By the [end of the] 1960s, however, the attempts by the Hong Kong government to maintain stability and good order which helped improve everyone's living conditions, and ... the beginning of the emergence of a Hong Kong identity, changed the attitude of the local Chinese. They overwhelmingly rallied around the colonial British regime.
Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a metropolitan area and special administrative region of the People's Republic of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea. With over 7.5 million residents of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world.
The Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing) was a peace treaty which ended the First Opium War (1839–1842) between the United Kingdom and China on 29 August 1842. It was the first of what the Chinese later called the unequal treaties.
The First Opium War, also known as the Opium War or the Anglo-Chinese War, was a series of military engagements fought between Britain and the Qing dynasty of China. The immediate issue was Chinese official seizure of opium stocks at Canton to stop the banned opium trade, and threatening the death penalty for future offenders. The British government insisted on the principles of free trade, equal diplomatic recognition among nations, and backed the merchants' demands. The British navy defeated the Chinese using technologically superior ships and weapons, and the British then imposed a treaty that granted territory to Britain and opened trade with China.
The Opium Wars were two wars waged between the Qing dynasty and Western powers in the mid-19th century. The First Opium War, fought in 1839–1842 between the Qing and Great Britain, was triggered by the dynasty's campaign against the British merchants who sold opium to Chinese merchants. The Second Opium War was fought between the Qing and Britain and France, 1856–1860. In each war, the European force's modern military technology led to easy victory over the Qing forces, with the consequence that the government was compelled to grant favorable tariffs, trade concessions, and territory to the Europeans.
The Sino-British Joint Declaration is a treaty signed between the United Kingdom and China on Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty. Signed on 19 December 1984 in Beijing, the declaration describes the sovereign and administrative arrangement of Hong Kong after 1 July 1997, when the lease of the New Territories was set to expire according to the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory.
The New Territories is one of the three main regions of Hong Kong, alongside Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. It makes up 86.2% of Hong Kong's territory, and contains around half of the population of Hong Kong. Historically, it is the region described in the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory. According to that treaty, the territories comprise the mainland area north of Boundary Street on the Kowloon Peninsula and south of the Sham Chun River, as well as over 200 outlying islands, including Lantau Island, Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, and Peng Chau in the territory of HK.
The Convention of Peking or First Convention of Peking is an agreement comprising three distinct treaties concluded between the Qing dynasty of China and Great Britain, France, and Russian Empire in 1860. In China, they are regarded as among the unequal treaties. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China keeps the original copy of the convention in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan.
The Kowloon–Canton Railway is a railway network in Hong Kong. It is owned, and was operated by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) until 2007. Rapid transit services, a light rail system and feeder bus routes within Hong Kong, and intercity passenger and freight train services to Mainland China on this network have since 2007 been operated by the MTR Corporation.
Hong Kong (1800s–1930s) oversaw the founding of the new crown colony of Hong Kong under the British Empire. After the First Opium War, the territory was ceded by the Qing Empire to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland through Treaty of Nanjing (1842) and Convention of Peking (1860) in perpetuity, with additional land was leased to the British under the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory (1898), Hong Kong became one of the first parts of East Asia to undergo industrialisation.
The region of Hong Kong has been inhabited since the Old Stone Age, later becoming part of the Chinese empire with its loose incorporation into the Qin dynasty. Starting out as a farming fishing village and salt production site, it became an important free port and eventually a major international financial centre.
The Regional Emblem of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China came into use on 1 July 1997, after the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China.
The Imperial Japanese occupation of Hong Kong began when the Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Mark Young, surrendered the British Crown colony of Hong Kong to the Empire of Japan on 25 December 1941. The surrender occurred after 18 days of fierce fighting against the overwhelming Japanese forces that had invaded the territory. The occupation lasted for three years and eight months until Japan surrendered at the end of Second World War. The length of this period (三年零八個月) later became a metonym of the occupation.
The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, commonly known as the handover of Hong Kong, occurred at midnight at the start of 1 July 1997, when the United Kingdom returned sovereignty over the British Dependent Territory of Hong Kong to China. China formed the special administrative region of Hong Kong, which continues to maintain governing and economic systems separate from those of mainland China.
Sir Percy Cradock was a British diplomat, civil servant and sinologist who served as British Ambassador to the People's Republic of China from 1978 to 1983, playing a significant role in the Sino-British negotiations which led up to the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984.
The Convention of Chuenpi was a tentative agreement between British Plenipotentiary Charles Elliot and Chinese Imperial Commissioner Qishan during the First Opium War between the United Kingdom and the Qing dynasty of China. The terms were published on 20 January 1841, but both governments rejected them and dismissed Elliot and Qishan, respectively, from their positions. Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston stated that Elliot acquired too little while the Daoguang Emperor believed Qishan conceded too much. Palmerston appointed Major-General Henry Pottinger to replace Elliot, while the emperor appointed Yang Fang to replace Qishan, along with Yishan as General-in-Chief of Repressing Rebellion and Longwen as an assistant regional commander. Although the convention was unratified, many of the terms were later included in the Treaty of Nanking (1842).
The Convention between the United Kingdom and China, Respecting an Extension of Hong Kong Territory, commonly known as the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory or the Second Convention of Peking, was a lease signed between Qing China and the United Kingdom on 9 June 1898. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China now keeps the original copy of the Convention in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan.
Hong Kong is an important port in the Far East, and has relied on entrepôt trade to survive its economy for more than a century.
The pro-ROC camp or pro-Kuomintang camp is a political alignment in Hong Kong. It generally pledges allegiance to the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan governed by the Kuomintang since the second half of the 20th century.
Relations between the government of Hong Kong and the Republic of China (Taiwan) encompass both when the Republic of China controlled mainland China, and afterwards, when the Republic of China fled to Taiwan.
Hong Kong–mainland China relations refer to the relationship between Mainland China and Hong Kong. According to the 1997 Sino-British Joint Declaration, the United Kingdom handed control of Hong Kong over to the People's Republic of China, making it a special administrative region. In principle, Hong Kong became an autonomous administrative division based on the Hong Kong Basic Law.
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