Hong Kong is on the eastern side of the Pearl River Delta on the southeastern coast of China, facing the South China Sea in the south, and bordering Guangdong Province in the north. Hong Kong is China's richest region, has one of the world's most liberal economies and is a major international centre of finance and trade.
Hong Kong was a British colony from 1842, until its sovereignty was transferred to the PRC in 1997. It is governed as a special administrative region under the Basic Law of Hong Kong. Under the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the PRC has promised that Hong Kong will have a relatively high degree of autonomy until at least 2047, fifty years after the transfer of sovereignty. Under the "One Country, Two Systems" policy, it retains its own legal system, currency, customs policy, cultural delegation, international sport teams, and immigration laws.
Hong Kong had been a trade port ever since the British occupation, but its position as an entrepot declined greatly after the United Nations ordered a trade embargo against the People's Republic of China as a result of the Korean War. In response, a textile industry was established, taking advantage of the new pool of workers from China who were willing to work for almost any wage. During this period, the economy grew extremely rapidly. Towards the 1970s, Hong Kong began to move away from the textile industry and develop its financial and banking economy. This led to even greater growth, and Hong Kong quickly became one of the wealthiest territories in the world. Its position as an entrepot was revived when the Open Door Policy was adopted by the PRC in the late 1970s under Deng Xiaoping.
The liberation of Hong Kong in 1945 was celebrated at the Cenotaph in Victoria with the raising of the Union Flag and the Flag of the Republic of China.In the 1980s, with the lease on the New Territories running out, the British government, led by Margaret Thatcher, decided to negotiate the question of the sovereignty of Hong Kong. Although the British would have been legally required to transfer only the New Territories to the PRC, Whitehall decided that maintaining a rump colony would not be worthwhile - the majority of Hong Kong's land was in the New Territories, and failure to return the entire colony would undoubtedly have generated political friction between the UK and PRC.
Flag of Hong Kong before 1st July, 1997Pursuant to an agreement known as the Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed by the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom on 19 December 1984, the whole territory of Hong Kong under British colonial rule became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC on 1 July 1997. In the Joint Declaration, the PRC promised that under the "One Country, Two Systems" policy proposed by Deng Xiaoping, the socialist economic system in mainland China would not be practised in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong's previous capitalist system and life-style would remain unchanged for at least 50 years, or until 2047. Hong Kong would enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except diplomatic affairs and national defence.
The Joint Declaration came into particular focus in June 1989 when the PRC authorities in Beijing moved with particular severity against "pro-democracy" demonstrators in Tiananmen Square and elsewhere in Beijing. The loss of life amongst their Chinese brethren in the Chinese capital led to literally millions of Hong Kong Chinese protesting openly in the streets of Hong Kong. In the (then) colony of Hong Kong there was immediate concern about Hong Kong's future, a fall in the stock market and general disquiet.
HK Convention and Exhibition Centre: It served as the site of the handover ceremony, which signified the end of British ruleHong Kong was transferred to the PRC at midnight on 1 July 1997, with the last governor, Chris Patten, leaving on the royal yacht. Soon after the handover in July, land values in Hong Kong collapsed substantially and expedited the burst of the bubble economy, as part of the Asian financial crisis. This was exacerbated by Tung Chee Hwa's unsubstantiated pledge to supply 85,000 new flats annually ; which essentially manipulated the region's real estate prices. In some areas, land values fell by over half; and the Hang Seng Index fell by over 1,500 points on 28 October 1997, losing 22.8% of its value in a week.
Hong Kong was hit badly by the outbreak of the SARS virus beginning in mid-March through the summer of 2003. This exacerbated the region's economic problems, especially in the effect that it had on travel to and from Hong Kong.
City of Hong Kong at nightOn 1 July the same year, half a million people marched in the largest protest rally ever aimed at the government of Hong Kong, voicing concerns about a proposed anti-subversion bill that would have eroded freedom of the press, of religion and of association arising from Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, as well as dissatisfaction with the poor state of the economy. Regina Ip, then Secretary for Security, and Antony Leung, then Financial Secretary, were forced to leave office in 2003 under public pressure (though Antony Leung left office for reason unrelated to the SARS and Article 23 crisis, he gave in to public pressure after his involvement in the 'Lexusgate' scandal).
On 10 March 2005, Tung Chee Hwa submitted his resignation as chief executive of Hong Kong. Donald Tsang, the Chief Secretary for Administration of Hong Kong, served as Acting Chief Executive until 25 May, when he, too, resigned to take part in the campaign for the new Chief Executive election. Following an interim government headed by Henry Tang, Tsang was elected as Chief Executive.