Saturday, July 1, 2017

HONG KONG | 20 Years After the British Departed

Chris Patten, the Last Governor of Hong Kong,
20 years ago.
July 1, 2017—On this day in 1997, Hong Kong reverted back to Chinese rule in a ceremony attended by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prince Charles, plus Chinese President Jiang Zemin and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The 28th British Governor presided over the taking down of the Union Jack at midnight. He was Chris Patten, now Lord Patten of Barnes and Chancellor of Oxford University.

The original unfurling of the British flag was not peaceful. In 1839, Britain invaded China and occupied Hong Kong, then a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of southeast China. Two years later, China ceded the island to the British in the Convention of Chuenpi. The year after that, the Treaty of Nanking ended the First Opium War.

Lord Patten of Barnes.
Britain’s new colony flourished as an East-West trading center and as the commercial gateway and distribution center for southern China. In 1898, Britain was granted an additional 99 years of rule over Hong Kong under the Second Convention of Peking.

In September 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and the Chinese signed a formal agreement approving the 1997 turnover of the island in exchange for a Chinese pledge to preserve Hong Kong’s capitalist system.

On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was peaceably handed over to China in a ceremony attended by numerous Chinese, British, and international dignitaries. The chief executive under the new Hong Kong government, Tung Chee Hwa, announced a policy based on the concept of “one country, two systems,” to preserve Hong Kong’s role as a capitalist center in Asia.

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