Hong Kong


Hong Kong Essay, Research Paper

Hong Kong is a small island off of the coast of China. Forseveral years it has played a significant role in worldtrade and politics. It was established as a British colonyfollowing the Opium wars in 1841. The Opium Wars began in the early 1800 s when Chineseauthorities began controlling trade of several items,including opium. The wars were started for several reasons,foreigners were becoming especially irritated by the highcustoms duties that Chinese forced traders to pay. Severalforeigners were also irritated by attempts made by Chineseauthorities to stop the growing import trade of opium. Inthe seventeenth and eighteenth century people of all classesbegan to use the drug recreationally. As a result of thisuse Chinese authorities forbid its import in 1800 ( A Short 1). Despite this restrictive law, opium trade continued toflourish. In the 1830 s Britain wanted increased traderights, when they were denied this issue, they forced it. In a response to Chinese seizure and the burning of opium,Britain began to occupy positions around several ports inChina ( A Short 2). This is when the Opium Wars began. The Chinese were no match for Britain s technological andtactical superiority. In 1842, China ceded Hong Kong toBritain. Also, several other ports were opened to Britishtrade ( A Short 2). Several other countries also gainedtrading rights to Hong Kong in 1844. A second Opium War wasfought in 1856, and new ports were opened for trade. Afterboth of the Opium Wars and in the beginnings of World War Imillions of people fled to Hong Kong as refugees. Half ofHong Kong s 6.3 million people are Chinese refugees aredescendants of refugees. Britain would have control of HongKong for the next 150 years in which it flourished andbecame the eighth largest trader in the world ( A 50-year 1). Hong Kong was an ideal place for world trade, it was ago between for Chinese and English trade. By the end of thenineteenth century Hong Kong was flourishing. In 1898,Britain acquired Hong Kong s remaining Chinese territorieson a 99-year lease ( A Family s 2). After 150 years ofBritish rule, Hong Kong was returned to China on July 1,1997. China agreed to grant Hong Kong autonomy for 50 yearsof being reunited ( A Family s 4). When Hong Kong once again became a part of China peoplewere worried that Hong Kong would lose some of theirfreedoms, so far China has held to their end of the bargain.Resident s were worried that Communist China will try tochange the legal and economic system and curtail the civilliberties of the people of Hong Kong ( Stay 1). Theprotest around Beijing s Tiananmen Square, on 1989, did notinstill any confidence in the people of Hong Kong, but sofar they have not had any worries. The agreement and alsowhat has become a saying is that Hong Kong and China willremain one country, two systems. In 1984, the governments of China and the UnitedKingdom signed the agreement which would allow China toregain control of Hong Kong and the other territories onJuly 1, 1997. There are several provisions to thisagreement which China is obligated to uphold ( A 50-year 1). First, Hong Kong will remain democratic. When they holdelections, all candidates must be Hong Kong residents. However the candidates eligibility and voting arrangementswill be determined by a legislative body from Beijing ( A50-year 3). The Declaration also provides for severalcivil liberties. These rights include freedom of speech,freedom of assembly, the right to form labor unions andstrike, religious freedom, and the freedom of travel. Private property, ownership of businesses and internationalinvestments are also protected under the Declaration. Freedom of the press is also protected, however severalnewspapers are owned by China publishers, and some are

downplaying stories they feel may upset the Chinesegovernment ( A 50-year 3-4). Hong Kong s laws, which arefounded in British common law, will remain relativelyunchanged. However, China has implemented the death penaltyand uses it liberally. Hong Kong abolished the deathpenalty in 1993, and it has not been decided whether or notit will be reinstated ( A 50-year 4). The Declarationassures that Hong Kong will continue to be an internationalfinancial capital. However, British visitors are no longerallowed to work in Hong Kong unless they have a work permit.It continues to be a free port and is allowed to conducteconomic and cultural relationships with other countriesindependent of Chinese control. Also Hong Kong will remainan independent member of the World Trade Organization ( A50-year 3). Hong Kong currently continues to use its owndollar. Chinese and English remain the official languagesof Hong Kong. Current English names of buildings and roadswill remain, although the word Royal has been dropped fromsome structures. Also, the existing educational system willremain in effect. Even schools which are ran by religiousand other organizations. Students are allowed to attendschool where they choose and also allowed to study abroad. The same emigration and immigration policies stand. Peoplewho leave are still required to have valid traveldocuments and entry is heavily regulated ( A 50-year 5). Hong Kong s police force continues to be the law enforcementagency. Even though there are 6000 Chinese soldiers arestationed on the island, they are not used for policingduties ( A 50-year 6). At 12:01 a.m. July 1, 1997 the transition of Hong Kongback to China began to take place. The British flag waslowered for the last time as the Chinese flag once againflew over Hong Kong. At the same time members of thePeople s Liberation Army entered Hong Kong (Hernandez 46). Prince Charles and Chinese President Jiang Zemin watched theceremonies. Hong Kong s final governor, Chris Pattendelivered a speech stating the important role Britain hadplayed in the development and growth of Hong Kong ( Palmer38). He stated that Britain had contributed law, governmentand the values of a free society. Fireworks lit up the skyand millions of people celebrated. For the first time sincethe end of World War II a free people was turned over to acommunist nation (Hernandez 47). Hong Kong will now have a new role in the world order. They will carry China into the 21st century both politicallyand technologically. Hong Kong has moved its money and jobsacross the border into mainland China, where labor ischeaper and investments are more rewarding. Hong Kong isthe world s eighth largest trader. Hong Kong which was oncea region of rice fields is now one of the globe s mostprosperous industrialized zones (Hernandez 48). The wealththat Hong Kong currently creates is outstanding. They havea per capita income of $23,000. With Hong Kong having lessthan one percent of China s population, they produce onefifth of the wealth in the nation (Hernandez 48). Sources Cited A Family s Priceless Legacy. June 15, 1997. February 2, 1999 http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/REPORTS/ HONGKONG/hkhupast.htm>. A 50-year experiment in coexistence. June 1997. February 2, 1999 http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9/06/HK97/handover/ handover.html>.Hernandez, Andres. End of an Empire. Newsweek July 14, 1997: 46-49.Palmer, Brian. The Longest Goodbye. US News and World Report July 14, 1997: 38-40. A Short History of the Opium Wars. May 1992. February 2, 1999 http://mojo.calyx.net/ schaffer/heroin/opiwar1. html>. Stay or leave? Hard choices in Hong Kong. June 1996. February 2, 1999 http://www.chron.com/content/ interactive/special/hongkong


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