Hong Kong History

By | October 11, 2021

Today’s Hong Kong was still a fishing village and pirate shelter at the beginning of the 19th century. When Great Britain recognized in the Opium War of 1840-42 the strategic and commercial possibilities of the place, which had been used by the British opium clippers since 1821 because of its protected harbor, the Treaty of Nanking (1842) allowed the island of Hong Kong, which had already been occupied in 1841, to be unlimited Transfer time. The resulting British crown colony, named Victoria in 1843 (after the administrative center in the north of the island), developed into one of the most important trading centers in East and Southeast Asia. Its first governor was Sir Henry Pottinger (* 1789, † 1856). In 1860, China had to cede the Kowloon Peninsula – also indefinitely – to Great Britain, which in 1898 secured the New Territories and numerous small islands by leasing for 99 years. During the Second World War, Hong Kong was occupied by Japanese troops from 1941–45. Unrest broke out in 1966–67 under the influence of the Cultural Revolution in China.

In 1984 Great Britain and the People’s Republic of China signed the treaty on the future of Hong Kong, which led to the return of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997 (for the provisions of the treaty see section Constitution). Efforts by British Governor Christopher Patten (* 1944), appointed in 1992, v. a. Democratizing Hong Kong’s electoral law created temporary British-Chinese tensions; the Legislative Council approved parts of the reform plan in February 1994, despite Chinese protests. In 1995/96, in connection with the deportation of Vietnamese boat people, there were repeated unrest in their refugee camps in Hong Kong (aim of the authorities to end the repatriation until the British colonial administration withdrew in 1997).

On January 26, 1996, according to prozipcodes, the Chinese government set up a Preparatory Committee (PrepCo) made up of 150 members (94 from Hong Kong and 56 from the People’s Republic of China) to prepare for the return of Hong Kong, which has the status of a Special Administrative Region (SAR), received (principle: “one state, two social systems”). On December 11, 1996, the major shipping company Dong Jianhua (Tung Chee-hwa; * 1937) elected by an election committee as the future head of government (chief executive) of Hong Kong (took office on July 1, 1997); Also in December 1996, a provisional legislature (60 members) was appointed, which was commissioned to legislate before the change of sovereignty and thus assumed the role of a counter-body to the Legislative Council, which was elected directly in 1995 and was not recognized by China (LegCo) took over. In February 1997, the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress decided, after Hong Kong was handed over to the People’s Republic of China, to suspend some elements of the previous legal system (particularly those relating to political organization and the right to demonstrate) (de facto a restriction on civil liberties).

After Dong Jianhua resigned in March 2005, Donald Tsang (* 1944; responsible for administration in the cabinet since 2001) initially took over the post of head of government on an interim basis; In 2005 and 2007 he was confirmed by the electoral committee in this. On March 25, 2012, the electoral committee elected Leung Chun-ying (* 1954) as Tsang’s successor.

The democratic efforts in Hong Kong, which are linked in particular to the demand for an electoral reform, lead to constant political conflicts with the Beijing government. In June 2014, for example, the Occupy Central Movement organized an unofficial referendum on free elections, in which around 800,000 people took part. At the annual democracy rally on July 1, 2014, hundreds of thousands demanded political reforms in a mass demonstration. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing decided at the end of August 2014 that the elections for the 2017 head of government and the 2020 parliament would not be held in direct mode. As a result, the protests escalated at the end of September 2014. The demonstrators occupied a.o. the financial district and set up barricades and protest camps. Leung Chun-ying. The police used pepper spray and tear gas. Since many demonstrators carried umbrellas to protect themselves from them, the wave of protests was also given the name “Umbrella Revolution” or “Umbrella Movement”. In November 2014, protest camps and barricades were dismantled by the police.

On September 4, 2016, regular elections to the Legislative Council took place. Several activists of the democracy movement also succeeded in entering the parliament, including Nathan Law (* 1993), one of the leaders of the “umbrella movement”. In April 2016 he co-founded the pro-democracy party Demosistō and assumed its chairmanship. Under pressure from Beijing, two newly elected activists were expelled from Hong Kong’s parliament on November 7, 2016 because they had not formally sworn the required oath of office correctly. On March 26, 2017, the electoral body named Carrie Lam (* 1957), Beijing’s preferred candidate, with 777 of 1,194 votes to succeed Leung Chun-ying in the office of head of government.

The political and infrastructural connection between the former crown colony of Great Britain and mainland China was established with the opening of the high-speed line between Hong Kong and Guangzhon in September 2018 and the longest bridge in the world, the 55 km long motorway bridge between the Chinese city of Zhuhai and Macau and Hong Kong, always closer. In April 2019, nine leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement were sentenced to prison terms. Meanwhile, young Hong Kong protesters have been protesting against a new extradition law since June 2019, according to which suspects and accused are to be transferred to mainland China. The demonstrators are supporters of democratic values ​​and demand the rule of law, freedom of expression and the application of the principle of “one country – two systems” negotiated in 1997. On June 12, 2019, the protests escalated into serious riots and street battles with the police, who used tear gas, water cannons and bulldozers. The central government does not want to lose political control over Hong Kong. The demonstrators are demanding an independent investigation into police operations and the withdrawal of the extradition law. Lam is asked to resign.

Hong Kong History