Current events, namely the protests by a crowd of two million Hong Kong residents against an extradition bill to China, lead one to ask this question:
Is Hong Kong part of China?
A short history of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, whose etymology 香港 describes it as the fragrant harbor, is a territory occupied since the Neolithic period.
However, it has no particular history until the British colonization.
The Empire of China offers to cede this territory to the British Empire for 99 years, at the end of the First Opium War with the Treaty of Nanking. Hong Kong thus became British from 1842 … (until 1997, but this will be explained later).
The episode of the Japanese occupation lasted from 1941 to 1945, and resulted in the population of the country decreasing from 1.6 million to 600,000 inhabitants.
From the 1960s onwards, Hong Kong’s economy developed, particularly in the financial sector in the 1970s.
The turning point: why Hong Kong is destined to become part of China
China had given, or rather loaned (since it was only for 99 years), Hong Kong to the British Empire … until 1997.
In anticipation of this outcome, China and the United Kingdom made a joint declaration to the UN, signed on December 19, 1984.
The consequences and promises of this declaration: The Colony of Hong Kong will be handed over to China in 1997. However, to facilitate this transition, what Deng Xiaoping (head of China) called in 1997 “one country, two systems” will be put in place for 50 years. That is to say that for only 50 years (from 1997), Hong Kong will have a special status, and will keep capitalism and its way of life.
- Hong Kong is part of China.
- However, it keeps its particular system until 2047.
- From 2047 and according to the legislation, Hong Kong will be completely part of China and there will be no difference.
Why is part of Hong Kong protesting today?
Every year, this fate of Hong Kong is the reason for massive demonstrations.
A part of the Hong Kong population wants to rewrite this history already traced, to preserve its particularities.
The objective is at least to slow down the transition of Hong Kong to a totally Chinese territory like the others. But it may go as far as leaving China for good.
On June 18, 2019, Chief Executive Carrie Lam adjourned her bill on extradition to China. This is a great victory for the pro-Hong Kong protesters, and conversely a huge failure for Beijing/Beijing, and its leader Xi Jinping, already weakened by the trade war with the United States.