This post follows straight on from the previous one where I spoke a little about the origins of British colonialism in Hong Kong by highlighting the post with a few important dates in the city-state’s history during the first half of the nineteenth century. This post takes up a similar structure but this time focuses on the influence and eventual rule of communism over capitalist Hong Kong. For most outsiders, it remains intriguing, even puzzling at times, to see how Hong Kong retains much of its cultural and economic freedom from mainland China. But I always say, look at China today.
Before we proceed to the timelines, here’s a bit of interesting information about Hong Kong. With over seven million inhabitants, Hong Kong is currently the fourth most densely populated sovereign region in the world. Not only that, Hong Kong, in Chinese means Fragrant Harbour or Incense Harbour. It is currently under communist China’s thumb, officially known as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Just so the British and anyone else thinking about laying their paws on this beautiful island knows.
- 1839 – 1842 – This was the period during which the first Opium War was fought between the Chinese and the British. The Chinese lost that battle and all territory was taken over by the British. This included the Hong Kong island and the Kowloon Peninsula.
- 1860 – In later years, these regions became known as the New Territories. But in a groundbreaking move between the British and Chinese, a new deal was struck.
- 1898 – This deal was to see all land returned back to the Chinese after nearly a hundred years of rule by the British. Little was it known at the time that that rule would now be handed over to a communist regime which came into being a few short years after the Second World War ended.
- 1945 – During the Second World War, the Japanese, fighting on the side of Nazi Germany, annexed Hong Kong and all its surrounding territories. But after they were defeated by the Americans and the British allies, control of Hong Kong was returned to the United Kingdom.
- 1980 – Negotiations between China and the British began prior to the transfer of all power and control over British-controlled territories.
- 1984 – After a few years of negotiations, the Sino-British Joint Declaration was drawn up. This allowed the transfer from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China to begin in all earnest. During the agreed transition period, the island and its surrounding territories would become a special administrative region, still with a high level of autonomy.
- 1997 – Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China was formalized. It finally marked the end of over one hundred and fifty years of rule by the British. It also marked the end of the British Empire, because Hong Kong was the last remaining colony under the British domain. At the same time, the region became China’s first special administrative region.
- 1997 – 2003 – Tung Chee-Wah was a business magnate favorable to the Chinese regime. By special election of eight hundred, he was chosen as Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive. Unfortunately for him and the rest of us, Hong Kong suffered an economic meltdown. This came about as a result of the so-called Asian Financial Crisis. Donald Tsang took radical measures and quickly restored Hong Kong’s financial stability. Lucky for me, I never owned property. I still don’t. It’s just so expensive out here. Also just after communist China took control of Hong Kong, there was a housing crisis which caused prices to plummet and many homeowners to lose their property.
Under Communist Chinese rule, Hong Kong is ruled under a principle of ‘one country, two systems’. For the time being, Hong Kong enjoys its own sovereign political and economic ways, devolved from China. China, however, retains control of military and foreign affairs, as well as legislative and judiciary powers.
Hong Kong remains one of the leading places in the world in which to do business in. It is recognized also as the most competitive area in which to trade. Now, this is interesting. We have an advanced tertiary education system, on a par with some of the best in the world. We also have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. But still, we have one of the worst income inequality rates among developed economies. That is shocking information indeed.
That’s about all I can give you at this time. Almost time for me to go again. I hope you found this account on the transfer of power between Britain and China interesting and well worth the read.