Pursuant to the agreement signed by China and the UK on 19 December 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 1 July 1997. Under the terms of this agreement, China has promised that under its “one country, two systems” formula its socialist economic system will not be practiced in Hong Kong, and that Hong Kong shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs.
Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
The Hong Kong Region Lies on the Eastern side of the Pearl River Estuary, facing Macau across the river, bordering on the South China Sea and bounded by 3 Special Economic Zone on the north. Its railway distance is 140 Kilometers to the city center of Guangzhou in GuangDong Province. (Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Macau will ultimately form a very vital triangle in the Pearl River Delta making this region one of the strongest is the world economically.)
The area of Hong Kong today consists of three parts:
1) Hong Kong Island (79 square kilometers) which was ceded to Britain by the Nanjing Treaty as the result of the First Opium War in 1842.
2)The Kowloon Peninsula (10 square kilometers) with its border on the north called “The Boundary Street”, which was ceded to Britain by the Convention of Beijing as the result of the Second Opium War in 1860.
3) The New Territory covers an area of nearly 1,000 square kilometers between the Boundary Street on the South & the Shenzhen River to the North, making up about 91% of the total area of Hong Kong today. It was leased to Britain according to a. special treaty (The Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong of 1898.) for 99 years so that this year 1997 is the end of the treaty. The following is the historic background of the event, which added more humiliation to the Chinese nation. Near the end of the 19th century, the western powers and Japan scrambled for their spheres of influence in China one after another. Russia leased the Port of Dalian in the Northeast, Germany leased Qingdao City and some other places in Shangdong Province, while France leased the then Guangzhou Wan (Now Zhenjiang City) in the west part of Guangdong Province. Under such circumstances, The British did not lag behind, so just two and a half years after Japan occupied Taiwan as the result of the defeat of Qing Empire in the Sino-Japanese War in 1895. The British lost no time in seizing a large piece of land and a large number of islands around Hong Kong which made up what Hong Kong is today. At a discussion in the Parliament on whether to take this voracious imperialistic action or not, a minister warned, “if we miss this chance to de so, it will be too late. Because China will become strong in half a century, what he predicted at the end of last century became true exactly half a century after that. In 1949, the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) was founded.
The Geographical Situation of Hong Kong and Its Position as an International Financial and Trading Center Today
Facing the South China Sea and the vast Pacific Ocean areas, Hong Kong is at the mid-way between Beijing and Indonesia, also the midway point between Tokyo of Japan and the central part of India.
It serves as the gateway to South China from Europe, Australia, America and Japan, having a very convenient connection with the hinterland of the Central, South and Southwest China through the City of Guangzhou. Functioning as a hub of communications in the Pacific-Asian areas, linking Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and also as a port of transshipments between America and South East Asia. Hong Kong is economically a bridge connecting a large part of inner China to the world.
Hong Kong also is at the center of the world time Zone, forming a 24-hour financial market together with New York to the east and London to the west. When Hong Kong sees the sunrise, it’s midnight in London so when the Hong Kong bankers get up in the morning they can see the closing quotation of stock exchange of London. When the Hong Kong financial organizations finish in the afternoon, the London market is going on powerfully. Hong Kong can adjust their counter measures according to the change of market quotations of London. When evening comes to Hong Kong the New York stock exchange reopens. Then Hong Kong influences the U.S. stock market. So, Hong Kong links the three time zones of Europe, Asia, and America into a one.
Hong Kong today is one of the three biggest financial centers in the world together with New York and Frankfurt. It’s also one of the three gold trade centers besides London ; Zurich of Switzerland.
The following facts and figures may help us understand further the position of Hong Kong in the world economic life today.
? Hong Kong is the biggest transit port in the world. Its container handling capacity was 13,300,000 in 1996, five years successively holding the world record.
? The turnover of Hong Kong’s import & expert trade in 1996 reached 2,933.6 billion H.K.D (about 380 billion USD), ranked 8th in the world.
? Hong Kong is second to the Chinese mainland in ready-made garments export volume. Its export of watches and toys is on top of the world.
? Hong Kong’s handling capacity of airfreight transportation ranked second in the world in 1996. The daily handling capacity of its airport is 5,400 tons, not including that of a new airport, which will be put into operation within this year.
Since the early 19th century, Britain had become the number one Colonial Empire of the world, a number of important islands and peninsulas, such as Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, Ceylon in the Indian Ocean, Malaya including Singapore in the. Pacific Ocean and Malvinas Islands (the Falkland Islands) and Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean have been under the British flag.
In 1830, two British merchants also notorious opium smugglers, J.W. Matheson and W. Jardine urged the British government to occupy a certain island at the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong as an anchorage for the British merchant ships. Since 1820, the East Indies Company had actually taken the island of as an anchorage for their opium ships, making Hong Kong a base of their dirty trade. This was also described in the official documents of the Qing Empire.
In March 1839, Lin Zhe – Sui was sent by the Emperial Court as a commissioner to ban the opium trade in Guangdong. He ordered the opium traders to surrender more than 20 thousand cases of opium and had them all burned in Human Fortress. This led to the notorious Opium War. On June 25th 1841, the British navy officially landed on Hong Kong Island and hoisted the British flag there. This event happened one year and 7 months before the signing of the humiliating Nanjing Treaty, according to which, Hong Kong was ceded to Britain. The Nanjing Treaty was the first unfair treaty of national betrayal and humiliation in the modern history of China.
Since then, China had been reduced to the status of a semi-colonial feudalistic country. The cession of Hong Kong was a sign of Qing Dynasty’s sinking into depravity until its doom.
The Political Status of Hong Kong (Prior to July 1, 1997)
Hong Kong, in a strict sense is not a British colony. It is a piece of foreign occupied land of China’s territory. The Chinese government’s standing towards the status of Hong Kong and Macau won wide support from the international society. In November 1972, at a voting of the Assembly of the United Nations, a solution was by overwhelming majority of 99 to 5 votes to cancel the names of Hong Kong and Macau from the list of existing colonies in the world. This solution told the world that Hong Kong must return to her motherland when the time came.
On February 7, 1985, the House of Commons for the British Parliament passed an Act (1985 Hong Kong Art) proclaiming that from July 1997 the U. K. was to put an end to its domination. The same Act was passed again by the House of Nobles. The Act came into effects after the Queen signed her name on it on May 7th, the same year.
The Different Stages of the Sino-British
The First Stage (Sept. 1982 to July 1984)
This stage began with the official visit of the then Prime-minister Mrs. Thatcher to Beijing and ended with the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
During this period of time, considering that 1997 was drawing near, in the British eyes the problem of Hong Kong should be settled for the best. interest of Britain. Coincidentally, the British had just won a war against Argentina over Malvinas Islands. . Mrs. Thatcher must have thought that being a victor in a newly won war would strengthen her position in the talks with China, but she found she had miscalculated. In face the British proposals- sovereignty for dominion, co-dominion, and extension of the lease of the New Territory for 50 more years from 1997 were all rejected by China one by one. Finally both sides came to a solution of
one country two systems. A capitalist economic system remains unchanged after 1997 for at least 50 years. Hong Kong people will enjoy a very high autonomy, exercising their administrative power under the sovereignty of the P.R.C. (People’s Republic of China). This solution will be satisfactory to China, Britain and Hong Kong people as well. As a result of this mutually beneficial solutions the Sino -British Joint Declaration was signed in Dec. 1984. The main contents of this historical document are as follows:
Confirming China’ s restoration of sovereignty over Hong Kong area and the British handover of Hong Kong to China on the same date: July 1,1997.
The fundamental policies of the Chinese government toward Hong Kong are to
establishment a Special Administrative Region, which is under the jurisdiction of the Central People’s Government of China. The Regional Government is composed of the native citizens.
No change will be made to the existing social and economic system in Hong Kong, and no change of the living style there, either, while the existing laws will be sustained basically.
The Special Region will maintain its status as a free port, with its Customs duty system unchanged; it also maintains its status as the center of international finance with its financial independence.
The Special Region can also keep on independently its long-term relations with international organizations, develop its social and cultural relationship and make relevant agreements with
The social security of the region will be protected by the police force there as before.
China’s Government assures that the above principles for Hong Kong will not be changed within 50 years.
The Chinese & the British Governments jointly guarantee their cooperation for the smooth transition of Hong Kong area in 1997.
During this period the relationship between China & Britain as well as that between Guangdong developed very steadily and smoothly. In October 1986 Queen Elizabeth paid an unusual visit to China which highlighted the development of friendship between these two nations.
The Third Stage (June 1989 to the Present)
This stage began after the June 4th incident in 1989. However, it as only an overture to the sharp turning of the British policy toward China on the Hong Kong issues. The political background, which led to the British wrong steering, was much more complicated