Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hong Kong ceded back to China

Apologies again for the late entry! Diving right in, today we focus on Asia.

Following China's loss to the UK in the Opium Wars and specifically the 1842 Treaty of Nanking, China conceded many things to the British such as money, ports, and territory, including the region known as Hong Kong.

The UK proceeded to have sovereignty over Hong Kong up until July 1, 1997, and Hong Kong was heavily influenced by its English-speaking, democratic ruling government. However, though Hong Kong Island itself was leased permanently to the UK, other territories garnered in the Opium Wars held a 99-year lease period. The temporary British dominions became impossible to separate from the permanently-leased territories, and so when the time came to return the temporary territories, Hong Kong was given back to China as well.

This transfer of power saw a lot of support and controversy. Many Chinese were pleased, believing Hong Kong to be a lost Chinese territory that belonged with its country once more. The PRC had also refused to acknowledge the "unfair and unequal" treaties leading to China's loss of Hong Kong and other territories, and therefore had only recognized British administration in Hong Kong but not British sovereignty. Yet, many Westerners felt that the Hong Kong people, exposed to and used to democracy under the British crown, should not be subject to a controlling communist regime after so much time.

Talks had begun years before the official hanging over of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong government felt largely left in the dark about the fate of its own country. Many Hong Kong citizens had heard of instances of brutality by the Chinese government, such as the Tiananmen Square incident. More than 100,000 citizens of Hong Kong fled to obtain UK residency forms, and in 1992, Hong Kong reached peak emigration at 66,000. 

Many things have changed and many things have stayed the same since the power transfer. English is still taught in Hong Kong's schools, and Hong Kong still sends its own team to the Olympics. However, the position of governor of Hong Kong was terminated and many national holidays were changed. Notably, though Hong Kong had celebrated Double Ten day (the celebration of the establishment of the Republic of China, or Taiwan) under British rule, it ceased to be a public holiday under Chinese rule.

Sources: Asian History.about, NYTimes, Wikipedia

No comments:

Post a Comment