The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, shortened as Hong Kong (??, pinyin: Xianggang, Cantonese: heung1 gong2, meaning Fragrant Harbour), is a special administrative region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China, consisting of a small peninsula attached to China’s southern coast and 236 islands in the South China Sea, of which Hong Kong Island is the second largest and Lantau the largest.
Under the policy of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’, Hong Kong enjoys a considerable degree of autonomy from the Mainland, continues to have its own currency, customs and immigration, legal system, and even its own rule of the road, with traffic continuing to drive on the left.
Although it was occupied since at least as long ago as the Neolithic Age, the territory of today’s Hong Kong remained distant from the major events unfolding in imperial China for most of its history. It did not begin attracting worldwide attention until the 19th century.
Occupied by the United Kingdom during the First Opium War in 1841, Hong Kong Island was formally ceded by China the following year under the Treaty of Nanking. Parts of the adjacent Kowloon Peninsula were ceded to Britain in 1860 by the Convention of Peking after the Second Opium War. Various adjacent lands, known as the New Territories were then leased to Britain for 99 years from July 1, 1898, the lease expiring on June 30, 1997.
Pursuant to an agreement signed by the PRC and the UK on December 19, 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the whole territory of Hong Kong under British colonial rule became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC on July 1, 1997.
In the Joint Declaration, the PRC promised that, under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy proposed by Deng Xiaoping, China’s socialist economic system would not be practised in Hong Kong and that Hong Kong would enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters, except foreign affairs and defence, for 50 years, until 2047.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is headed by Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa as head of government. Mr. Tung assumed office on July 1, 1997, following his election by a 400-member committee appointed by the People’s Republic of China, whose president serves as head of state for the Hong Kong SAR. He was nominated by the majority of members of a broadly representative Election Committee in February 2002 and was returned unopposed for a second term which began in July 2002.
Legislative Council elections were held in May 1998 and again in September 2000. According to the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s “Mini-constitution,” the Legislative Council has 24 directly elected members; the other 30 members are either appointed or chosen by occupational constituencies, with six being elected by a special Election Committee.
The 1998 and 2000 Legislative Council elections were seen as free, open, and widely contested, despite discontent among mainly pro-democracy politicians that the functional constituencies and Election Committee elections are essentially undemocratic because so few voters are eligible to vote. The Civil Service maintains its quality and neutrality, operating without discernible direction from Beijing.
The Right of abode issue sparked debates in 1999, while the controversy over Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23 was the focus of politics in Hong Kong between 2002-2003.
Towards the end of 2003, the focus shifted to the dispute of how subsequent Chief Executive gets elected. The Basic Law’s Article 45 says the eventual goal is universal suffrage; when and how to achieve that goal, however, remains highly controversial. Under the Basic Law, the earliest the constitution could be amended to allow for this is 2007. Democratic reform movements have caused repeated clashes with Beijing, with Beijing now claiming for veto power over any proposed reforms
Hong Kong consists of 18 districts:
Central and Western
Sham Shui Po
Wong Tai Sin
Yau Tsim Mong
The name “Hong Kong” is derived from Hong Kong Island in the South China Sea, at the mouth of the Xi Jiang or Pearl River of southern China. Other territories that were later added include the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, which include over 200 surrounding islands. The landscape is fairly hilly to mountainous with steep slopes, with the highest point being the Tai Mo Shan at 958 m, though lowlands exist in the north.
Of the total of 1,092 km