British crown colony se of China, in the South China Sea, comprising Hong Kong Island; the Kowloon Peninsula; many other islands, of which the largest is Lantau; and the mainland New Territories. It is due to revert to Chinese control 1997.
Area 1,070 sq km/413 sq mi
Capital Victoria (Hong Kong City)
Towns and cities Kowloon, Tsuen Wan (in the New Territories)
Features an enclave of Kwantung province, China, it has one of the world’s finest natural harbors; Hong Kong Island is connected with Kowloon by undersea railroad and ferries; a world financial center, its stock market has four exchanges; across the border of the New Territories in China itself is the Shenzhen special economic zone
Environment world’s most densely populated city; surrounding waters heavily polluted
Exports textiles, clothing, electronic goods, clocks, watches, cameras, plastic products; a large proportion of the exports and imports of S China are transshipped here; tourism is important
Currency Hong Kong dollar
Population (1986) 5,431,000; 57% Hong Kong Chinese, most of the remainder refugees from the mainland
Language English, Chinese
Media Hong Kong has the most free press in Asia but its freedoms are not enshrined in law
Religion Confucianist, Buddhist, Taoist, with Muslim and Christian minorities
Government Hong Kong is a British dependency administered by a crown-appointed governor (Chris Patten from 1992) who presides over an unelected executive council, composed of 4 ex-officio and 11 nominated members, and a legislative council composed of 3 ex-officio members, 18 appointees, and 39 elected members (21 of these elected by constituencies each representing an occupational of professional group, and 18 directly elected by 9 geographical constituencies). In 1994 the Legislative Council, in defiance of China, passed the first stage of the constitutional reforms which lowered the voting age to 18 and provided for elected local councils.
History formerly part of China, Hong Kong Island was occupied by Britain 1841, during the first of the Opium Wars, and ceded by China under the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. The Kowloon Peninsula was acquired under the 1860 Beijing (Peking) Convention and the New Territories secured on a 99-year lease from 1898. The colony, which developed into a major center for Sino-British trade during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was occupied by Japan 1941–45. The restored British administration promised, after 1946, to increase self-government. These plans were shelved, however, after the 1949 Communist revolution in China. During the 1950s almost 1 million Chinese (predominantly Cantonese) refugees fled to Hong Kong. Immigration continued during the 1960s and 1970s, raising the colony’s population from 1 million in 1946 to 5 million in 1980, leading to the imposition of strict border controls during the 1980s. Since 1975, 160,000 Vietnamese boat people have fled to Hong Kong; in 1991 some 61,000 remained. The uk go
Vernment began forced repatriation 1989. Hong Kong’s economy expanded rapidly during the corresponding period and the colony became one of Asia’s major commercial, financial, and industrial centers, boasting the world’s busiest container port from 1987. As the date (1997) for the termination of the New Territories’ lease approached, negotiations on Hong Kong’s future were opened between Britain and China 1982. These culminated in a unique agreement, signed in Beijing 1984, in which Britain agreed to transfer full sovereignty of the islands and New Territories to China 1997 in return for Chinese assurance that Hong Kong’s social and economic freedom and capitalist lifestyle would be preserved for at least 50 years. As plans for the transfer became more detailed, fears that China would exert more control than agreed led to tensions between the uk and China.
Under this “one country, two systems” agreement, in 1997 Hong Kong would become a special administrative region within China, with its own laws, currency, budget, and tax system, and would retain its free-port status and authority to negotiate separate international trade agreements. In preparation for its withdrawal from the colony, the British government introduced indirect elections to select a portion of the new legislative council 1984, and direct elections for seats on lower-tier local councils 1985. A Sino-British joint liaison group was also established to monitor the functioning of the new agreement, and a 59-member committee (including 25 representatives from Hong Kong) formed in Beijing 1985 to draft a new constitution. In Dec 1989 the uk government granted British citizenship to 225,000 Hong Kong residents, beginning 1997. In March 1990 the 59-member committee agreed to a “Basic Law” with 18 directly-elected members of the legislative council from 1991, rising to 30 in 2003 (out of a total of 60).
In Sept 1991, the liberal United Democrats won 16 of the 18 seats in the territory’s legislature; they were led by lawyer Martin Lee and teacher Szeto Wah (who had spearheaded Hong Kong’s 1989 prodemocracy demonstrations in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing). Proposals for greater democracy announced by the colony’s new governor, Chris Patten, Nov 1992, were supported by Hong Kong’s legislative council despite strong criticism from the Chinese government. The legislature approved Patten’s first two reform bills Dec 1993 and Feb 1994 respectively, as a result of which China vowed to disband all elected bodies when it took control 1997.
A British Crown Colony on the coast of southern China; leased by China to Britain in 1842 and returned in 1997; one of the world's leading commercial centers.
Britanska kolonija u Kini, vraćena Kini 1997. godine.