Hong Kongs geography and climate Hong Kong is located at the south-east corner of the Peoples Republic of China, about 1,200 kilometers from the next largest city, Shanghai, and almost 2,000 kilometers from the capital city of Beijing. Hong Kong covers the islands of Hong Kong, Lantau, Kowloon Peninsula, and New Territories, including 262 outer islands. Hong Kong is composed of Hong Kong Island, initially given to Great Britain by China in 1842, southern parts of the Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutters Island (now joined with mainland), which was granted in 1860, and the New Territories, comprising mainland areas lying mostly in the north, along with 230 large and small outlying islands — all leased by China over 99 years between 1898 and 1997. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic of China, largely given freedom to run its affairs according to the “One Country, Two Systems”, the national unification policy developed by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping from 1898 to 1997. The laws establish Hong Kong as a special administrative region of mainland China, but one that has limited electoral rights and a mostly separate legal and economic system.
Under the Basic Law, Hong Kong would continue as an autonomous special administrative region of the PRC, with its own currency, legal system, and parliamentary system. Under terms of the return of the former British colony to Beijing in 1997, Beijing promised to maintain the way of life in the city, including civil liberties and political freedoms unavailable on the Chinese mainland, for a minimum period of 50 years, based on the one country, two systems principle. Under the one country, two systems doctrine, mainland China allowed Hong Kong to continue governing itself and to retain a variety of separate systems over the course of 50 years. Cheap labour was brought in, and Hong Kong slowly recovered its pre-World War II status of being a highly rich, independent colony, but on 1 July 1997, Hong Kong became part of Chinese territory once more, with the British ceding the colony to the Peoples Republic of China.
In recent years, Beijing has moved to link Hong Kong more closely with Beijing by creating the Greater Bay Area Project, an ambitious plan to integrate Hong Kong and cities in neighbouring Guangdong province into a more cohesive economic region. Multinational corporations and banks–many of which have regional headquarters in Hong Kong–have historically used Hong Kongs location as a gateway for doing business on the mainland, partly because of its proximity to the worlds second-largest economy and a legal system that draws from British common law. For international firms, the uncertainties created by the National Security Law have been a key source of concern, said Michael Davis, former professor of law at the University of Hong Kong. In a survey conducted last year by the American Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong, more than 40% of foreigners said that they planned to leave or were considering doing so, mostly because of concerns about Beijings harsh national security law, strict COVID restrictions limiting international travel, and a grim outlook for future competitiveness of the former British colony.
Hong Kong has been one of the worlds most cosmopolitan cities, but the protests and COVID restrictions mean the benefits are disappearing… Investors feel less safe in legal terms, as they do not know whether Hong Kongs legal system is neutral, whereas the Beijing legal system is riddled with gray areas. Carrie Lam said that Hong Kongs tough COVID-19 containment strategies are necessary to protect Hong Kongs critical travel corridors into mainland China, but denied they were merely replicating mainland Chinas approach of pursuing a zero-COVID policy, which has led to whole cities like Shanghai being closed down and economically crippled. While the majority of Hong Kongers identify as Chinese, they do not see themselves as part of the Peoples Republic.
Beijing allows Hong Kong to participate, as a member of the Associate Member, in some intergovernmental bodies such as the Asian Development Bank and World Health Organisation; and to engage in some commercial agreements, as the member of Hong Kong, China. The designations are designed to emphasize Hong Kongs existing strengths in areas like financial services, trade, tourism, transportation, communications, as well as its role as the international hub of international affairs, as well as a leading Chinese city. The Declaration, as well as the Basic Law of Hong Kong, the citys constitutional document, codifies its capitalist system and grants Hong Kongs people a high degree of autonomy, including administrative, legislative, and independent judicial powers, for fifty years (until 2027).
David Gray/Reuters The first Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Tung Chee-hwa, smiles during the Inauguration of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, a formal transfer of the territory from the British Government to Beijing, July 1, 1997. The peak, which towers at 554 metres (1818 feet), dominated the citys skyline, and was once the site of a sleepy area of colonial mansions occupied by British officials who ran Hong Kong until its 1997 handover to China. The new arts quarters will coincide with plans to open wider promenades and open spaces along either side of the waterfront, a concerted effort to maximise the potential of Hong Kongs most striking asset, the stunning Victoria Harbor.