Seized by the UK in 1841, Hong Kong was formally ceded by China the following year at the end of the First Opium War; the Kowloon Peninsula was added in 1860 at the end of the Second Opium War, and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and the UK on 19 December 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997. In this agreement, China promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic and strict political system would not be imposed on Hong Kong and that Hong Kong would enjoy a "high degree of autonomy" in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the subsequent 50 years.
Since the turnover, Hong Kong has continued to enjoy success as an international financial center. However, dissatisfaction with the Hong Kong Government and growing Chinese political influence has been a central issue and led to considerable civil unrest, including large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019 after the HKSAR attempted to revise a local ordinance to allow extraditions to mainland China. In response, the governments of the HKSAR and China took several actions that reduced the city's autonomy and placed new restrictions on the rights of Hong Kong residents, moves that were widely criticized to be in direct contravention of obligations under the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Chief among these actions was a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong imposed by the Chinese Government in June 2020 that criminalized acts such as those interpreted as secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign or external forces. The law ushered in a widespread crackdown on public protests, criticism of authorities, and freedom of speech, and was used by authorities to target pro-democracy activists, organizations, and media companies. Democratic lawmakers and political figures were arrested, while others fled abroad. At the same time, dozens of civil society groups and several independent media outlets were closed or have disbanded. In March 2021, Beijing imposed a more restrictive electoral system, including restructuring the Legislative Council (LegCo) and allowing only government-approved candidates to run for office, claiming it was to ensure a system of "patriots" governed Hong Kong. The changes ensured that virtually all seats in the December 2021 LegCo election were won by pro-establishment candidates and effectively ended political opposition to Beijing in the territory.
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NOTE: The information regarding Hong Kong on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Hong Kong 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Hong Kong 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.