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Hong Kong History

Hong Kong history dates back to when in 1842 after the Opium wars concluded, the British Empire took over Hong Kong as its colony. The British scornfully referred to it as a "barren rock" when they signed the treaty but soon realized its importance of Victoria Harbor's value as one of the best deep-water ports in the world. The colony prospered as an east-west trading center, the commercial gateway to, and distribution center for, S China. It was efficiently governed, and its banking, insurance, and shipping services quickly became known as the most reliable in SE Asia. In 1921 the British agreed to limit the protection of the colony, and this contributed to its easy conquest by the Japanese in Dec. 25, 1941 though it was recaptured by the British on Sept. 16, 1945.

When China’s mainland in 1949, was taken under the rule of communists, Hong Kong saw hundreds of thousands of refugees crossed the border, making Hong Kong's urban areas some of the most densely populated in the world. This resulted in numerous problems of housing, health, drug addiction, and crime. In May, 1967, Hong Kong was struck by a wave of riots and strikes inspired by China's Cultural Revolution. The government reacted firmly, and, although the Chinese retaliated by briefly stopping the piping of water and by attacking British representatives in Beijing. History of Hong Kong saw relations between Hong Kong and China soon coming back to normal and harmony was once gain surfaced that had existed since the late 1950s.

After several years of negotiations, on Dec. 19, 1984, Britain and the People's Republic of China agreed that Hong Kong would become a special administrative region of China as of July 1, 1997, when Britain's lease expired. This agreement was a new face for Hong Kong history. A policy was declared of “One Country, Two Systems,” China agreed to give Hong Kong considerable autonomy, allowing its existing social and economic systems to remain unchanged for a period of 50 years.

The crackdown in 1989 at Tiananmen Square in Beijing inspired fears that China would not respect Hong Kong's autonomy, and in the next few years many business people left, affecting Hong Kong's economy. In 1991, Hong Kong's first direct legislative elections (which accounted for about 30% of the seats) were won almost entirely by liberal, prodemocracy candidates, and no pro-China candidates were elected.

In 1992, Britain introduced a number of democratic measures, which were denounced by China. Talks between the two countries proved fruitless, and in 1994 Hong Kong's legislature approved further democratic reforms in the colony in defiance of strong Chinese objections. Upon Hong's return to China, Beijing abolished the legislature set up by the British and established a provisional legislature; a chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, was also appointed. Elections were held in 1998, with prodemocracy parties taking 16 of the 20 directly elected seats (the rest of the 60 seats were mostly chosen by professional constituencies).

Hong Kong history has witnessed the blossoming of the country at a blinding rate in the past 160 years, and now the "barren rock" boasts the most valued real estate in the world. Its strategic location as a gateway to China combined with the entrepreneurial attitude of its inhabitants, makes Hong Kong the place to do business in Asia. As luck would have it, the British ceded control of Hong Kong back to China in 1997 when their lease on the New Territories was finally up. This handover was a sorrowful event for the British as they realized that it was a goldmine that they were parting with.
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