Hong Kong in 2022

Hong Kong in 2022

Our "Autonomous Territories" Series takes us to Hong Kong, officially a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China since 1997.

The history of Hong Kong as an autonomous entity starts in 1842, after the First opium War, when the Qing dynasty of China ceased Hong Kong Island to the British Crown in perpetuity in order for British merchants to gain access to the Chinese market. After the Second Opium War, China ceded the Kowloon Peninsula facing Hong Kong Island on the mainland. The rapid development of the Colony led the British to lease much larger territories in the North of the Colony. The "New Territories" would remain British for a duration of 99 years, starting in 1898.

By the 1980s, the population of Hong Kong had reached 5 million, the vast majority residing in the leased territories, and Britain and the People's Republic of China started negotiations for the future of the territory. It appeared that reverting to the pre-1898 territory would not work, and so the parties negotiated a transfer of the totality of the territory, along with a guarantee of maintaining a separate legal status for 50 years.

This status has been in place since 1997. Some reforms of the system have seen an increase in the level of control from the PRC over Hong Kong, which in turn has led to an increase in independentist sentiment in the population, mainly among the younger Hongkongers.

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