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Hong Kong 1997 handover: How the UK returned HK to China

Credit: TomoNews US
Published on July 3, 2019 - Duration: 02:41s

Hong Kong 1997 handover: How the UK returned HK to China

HONG KONG — July 1, 2019 marks the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule.

Here's everything you need to know about the handover.

The South China Morning Post reports that China ceded Hong Kong Island to Britain in 1842, and Kowloon in 1860, ending the First and Second Opium Wars, respectively.

In 1898, Britain leased the New Territories for a period of 99 years to better enforce control on the area.

Over the course of those years, Hong Kong became a major financial and business hub, different both politically and economically from China, which came under Communist rule in 1949.

June 30, 1997 marked the end of British colonial rule in Hong Kong, as the Chinese sovereignty resumed sovereignty at midnight on July 1.

Beijing agreed to rule the city under the 'one country, two systems' principle for the next 50 years, turning Hong Kong into a Special Administrative Region with its own legal and political system, rights, and a constitution known as the Basic Law.

Hong Kong's leader, the Chief Executive, is elected by a 1,200-member election committee.

In the Legislative Council, half the representatives are elected, while half are chosen by professional or special interest groups.

According to the BBC, many felt that the election process gave China the ability to screen out candidates it disapproves of.

Dissatisfaction intensified in August 2014 after Beijing rejected calls for open nominations of the next Chief Executive, ultimately culminating in the Umbrella protests.

China's 50-year-deal with Hong Kong will end in 2047, and while some have called for full independence, Beijing has said this is not an option.

There are three likely scenarios: first, China extends the deal allowing Hong Kong its autonomy and Basic Law; second, China allows some of the current privileges, but not all, and third, Hong Kong loses its special status, and becomes just like any other Chinese province.

But unlike its older residents, Hong Kong's increasingly politicized younger generation aren't ones to kowtow to China.

So an intense political struggle is likely in the city's future.

And if the recent extradition bill protests tells us anything, it's that Hong Kongers won't go down without a fight.

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