Hong Kong - Country history and economic development

1841. Hong Kong is seized by the British navy at the height of the first opium war (1839-42). The Chinese government is forced to accept Britain's sovereignty over the island by signing the Convention of Chuenpi.

1842. The British Royal Charter formally establishes Hong Kong as "a separate colony." The British government proclaims Hong Kong a free port, which encourages immigration from mainland China to Hong Kong. The United States government establishes the first foreign consulate in the colony.

1844. To control the Chinese population, the Hong Kong Legislative Council (Legco) passes a restrictive law which leads to a general strike, the return of many workers to China, and the paralysis of businesses. The Legco amends the law to restore normalcy.

1856. The Second Opium War (1856-58) begins. The Chinese workers of Hong Kong go on a strike and boycott British businesses.

1860. Britain expands its holdings in China by occupying Kowloon and Stonecutters Island. The Treaty of Beijing legalizes the occupation by leasing these lands to Britain in perpetuity.

1860s. Hong Kong's population grows significantly as a result of migration from mainland China. Its economy begins to flourish. Hong Kong's infrastructure emerges, including telegraph systems, street gas lighting, and secular schools.

1898. In the aftermath of the Sino-Japanese war (1894-95), the British government forces the weakened Chinese government to cede to Britain the New Territories and 235 islands in the proximity of Hong Kong on a 99-year lease to expire in June 1997.

1911. The Wuhan Uprising in Canton overthrows the Chinese Empire and makes its leader, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the first president of China.

1920. Around 9,000 Hong Kong mechanics go on strike and leave for Canton. The subsequent paralysis of commerce leads to a wage increase and the settlement of the labor dispute.

1921. The Hong Kong government has to accept a wage increase for seamen similar to the one given to the mechanics in 1922 to end a general workers' strike.

1926. In October, the long general strike of Hong Kong's workers, in which 30 percent of the workforce participates, ends when the British Foreign Office agrees to change some of its unequal economic treaties with China.

1937. The Sino-Japanese War begins. The Japanese navy lands at Bias Bay in the New Territories.

1939. Japanese military forces occupy Hong Kong's Hainan Island.

1941. On 8 December, Japan invades Hong Kong. Governor Young accepts defeat and surrenders to the Japanese commander on 25 December.

1949. The Chinese Communist Party wins the civil war in China and declares the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on 1 October.

1950s. Hong Kong's population increases to 2.5 million as a result of the flight of hundreds of thousands of refugees from mainland China.

1961. Hong Kong's population increases to 3.1 million.

1970. Hong Kong's population grows to 4 million.

1979. As part of improving ties between China and Britain, China invites Hong Kong governor MacLehose for an official visit to discuss certain issues, especially the expiration of the New Territories lease in 1997.

1980. Hong Kong's population increases to 5.2 million. Hong Kong governor MacLehose announces the "Touch Base" policy to stop illegal immigration from China, which provides for the return of illegal immigrants to China.

1982. In September, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher visits Beijing to begin negotiations about the future status of Hong Kong.

1983. In July, the first official round of Sino-British talks over the future status of Hong Kong begins. In October, the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of HK7.8 against US$1.

1984. The British and Chinese governments sign the Sino-British Joint Declaration regarding the peaceful hand-over of Hong Kong to China on 1 July 1997.

1985. In September, the Hong Kong government holds the first elections for Hong Kong's legislative body, the Legco.

1990. China's National People's Congress passes the Basic Law to serve as its mini-constitution based on the principle of "one country, two systems."

1991. In June, the Bill of Rights of Hong Kong is enacted with the power to override all other laws.

1994. Hong Kong holds its first fully democratic elections, and pro-democracy parties win a majority in the Legco. Selecting from among Hong Kong nationals, China appoints a 150-strong Preparatory Committee to lead Hong Kong's transfer to China. Over half of the committee are from Hong Kong's business elite.

1996. In December, China selects a Hong Kong ty-coon, Tung Chee-hwa, to be Hong Kong's first chief executive after the 1997 hand-over.

1997. On 1 July, the British government returns Hong Kong to China, which is renamed as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China. Its Basic Law guarantees legal, judicial, and legislative systems independent from those of China and full economic autonomy.

1998. Hong Kong signs a treaty with China to eliminate double taxation of their respective businesses operating in each other's territory. In May, a Legco is formed by elections, which replaces the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC).

2000. In September, a new Legco is formed by elections.

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