1997 - Hong Kong Returned to China
Title: 1997 - Hong Kong Returned to China
About: 150 years of British rule came to an end when the prosperous colony reverted back to control by China.
Hong Kong had been a British colony since 1841, when it was occupied during the First Opium War. Over the next half-century, the United Kingdom gained control over all three main regions of Hong Kong: the Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories, a swath of land that comprises the bulk of Hong Kong today. The final treaty, the 1898 Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, leased the New Territories to Britain for 99 years. Under the terms of the treaty, China would regain control of its leased lands on July 1, 1997.
British Hong Kong’s trajectory was different from that of mainland China, which became a Communist country in 1949. Up to 100,000 Chinese found refuge in Hong Kong after the Communist Party took power. Capitalist Hong Kong soon experienced an economic boom, becoming home to a multicultural, international community.
As the treaty’s expiration loomed, separating the New Territories from the rest of Hong Kong became increasingly unthinkable. Starting in the late 1970s, the U.K. and China began to discuss Hong Kong’s future. In 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and China’s premier Zhao Ziyang signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreeing that China would give Hong Kong some political and social autonomy through a “one country, two systems” policy for a 50-year-period.
The ceremony was attended by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles of Wales, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A few thousand Hong Kongers protested the turnover, which was otherwise celebratory and peaceful.
After the handover, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China with its own 'mini constitution', legal system, and some democratic rights like free speech and the freedom of assembly under its Basic Law. However, Hong Kong residents cannot elect their own leaders; rather, a chief executive is elected by a 1,200-member election committee.
Country: China + UK
Type: Historical Event
Artist: Fernando Nunez
Price: 0.2 ETH