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How Hong Kong became part of CHINA? Its history, economy and politics.

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

Recently, the China premier Xi Jinping gave a statement that: China has achieved comprehensive control over Hong Kong, turning it from chaos to governance.

China has also waged a major struggle against Taiwan separatism and is determined and able to oppose territorial integrity, Xi said.

The statement was not well received by many countries specially the west due to it's interest in Taiwan.

(Also, Read about China - Taiwan intense relations here)

The Hong Kong whom Xi claimed full control is actually under the control of Chinese government since 1997 (from 1898) as earlier it was part of UK who took it from the then ruling Qing dynasty in 1842 through the Opium wars.

Hong Kong is generally known for it's tourism and also low taxes that is why many business groups prefer Hong Kong as a destination to register their businesses. But slowly things have changed and now the Chinese government have control over its territories with certain autonomy to the region differing from mainland china.

History of Hong Kong

The Hong Kong was ceded to British in 1842 by the Chinese ruling Qing dynasty and the region of the southern part of the Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutters (Ngong Shuen) Island, which is now joined with the mainland, ceded in 1860, and the New Territories, which include the mainland area lying to the north, together with 230 large and small offshore islands - whole of this region together was leased from Chinese for 99 years by the British. There is a very interesting story behind this,

Foreign traders such as the British and french were trading Opium (Afeem) from India to China since the 18th century, but that trade grew dramatically from about 1820. Due to this large amount of chinese people started addicting to the opium which made foreign powers huge money but the social and economic problems started to emerge in the China and the Chinese government started making attempts to suppress the trade.

In spring 1839 the Chinese government confiscated and destroyed more than 20,000 chests of opium, some 1,400 tons of the drug that were warehoused at Canton (Guangzhou) by British merchants.

Rising tensions and few other issues such as random killing of some Chinese villager by drunken British soldiers slowly made way for the war. When the Chinese tried to blockade the ports and ships of trade the British attacked the ports of the Hong Kong (pearl estuary) and started capturing the areas. Finally treaty of Nanjing was signed in which Hong Kong was ceded to British.

Later in 1860's another Opium war took place over other territories in which French also participated attacking the Chinese and took southern portion of the Kowloon Peninsula adjacent to Hong Kong.

In the 20th century, Japan occupied Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945 during the Second World War. By the end of the war in 1945, Hong Kong was liberated by joint British and Chinese troops and returned to British rule.

Close to the end of lease period in 1980s, an idea proposed by Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping, that the region would enjoy autonomy under the principle of “one country, two systems,” , and China would retain control over its internal matters that is, its courts, its rule-making and executive government, and its internal security. In return, China would rule over Hong Kong’s foreign affairs and would take charge of its external security. In 1997 the country was returned to China under same agreement.

Economic differences and trade

  • Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region controlled by the People's Republic of China and enjoys limited autonomy.

  • China follows the principle of socialism and capitalism simultaneously under one country two systems however this is not true now as countries autonomy is almost curbed by pro china dummy rulers in the region.

  • Also, the trade favorite place for many Hong Kong, stock market was the fourth largest in Asia and the seventh largest in the world by 2021.

  • Comparing to China it has low tax rates, free trade, and limited government interference.

Hong Kong's economy was rated the freest in the world from 1995 to 2019 by The Heritage Foundation's annual index of the world's freest economies.
  • Hong Kong is also known as a haven for corruption and a favorite location for money laundering by the business tycoons.

The comparison of GDP per capita of China and Hong Kong can be seen the chart below. (Credits - Investopedia)

Politics of Hong Kong and role of China

  • In 2014 Hong Kong witnessed pro-democracy protests that lasted for 79 days which was dealt harshly by the Chinese government.

  • The Umbrella Movement, in which the protestors demanded full democracy. The right of Hong Kong residents to elect their own government officials without interference from the mainland. It was known as Umbrella movement because it took the umbrella as a symbol of resistance,

  • Hong Kong continues to struggle with its identity and struggling with the interference from China as its ties with the mainland grow.

  • China usually holds elections in the region by making sure the candidate standing in election is pro Chinese policies and in the past there have been boycott of elections by the people of Hong Kong to which China threatened strict action if the people don't come out to vote.

  • During COVID, when China curbed the freedom of people of Hong Kong, UK offered free visa to the people of Hong Kong in order to show support and stand against the policies of China and for not adhering to the agreement of giving autonomy to the people of Hong Kong.

  • Carrie Lam, was elected in 2017 and finished her term on 30 June 2022. Former Chief Secretary John Lee was the sole candidate approved by the central government of China in the election and the only candidate to be nominated. So he acts as the current chief executive.

  • China is aggressive on Taiwan as well, know all about China - Taiwan and it's geopolitics here.

stay tuned for more.

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