lørdag 30. mars 2024

In Retrospect: The Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong (1984)

The Sino-British Joint Declaration was a treaty between the governments of the United Kingdom and China signed in 1984 setting the conditions in which Hong Kong was transferred to Chinese control and for the governance of the territory after 1 July 1997.

Hong Kong had been a colony of the British Empire since 1842 after the First Opium War and its territory was expanded on two occasions; first in 1860 with the addition of Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutters Island, and again in 1898 when Britain obtained a 99-year lease for the New Territories. The date of the handover in 1997 marked the end of this lease.

The Chinese government declared in the treaty its basic policies for governing Hong Kong after the transfer. A special administrative region would be established in the territory that would be self-governing with a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign affairs and defence. Hong Kong would maintain its existing governing and economic systems separate from that of mainland China under the principle of "one country, two systems". This blueprint would be elaborated on in the Hong Kong Basic Law (the post-handover regional constitution) and the central government's policies for the territory were to remain unchanged for a period of 50 years after 1997.