The UK Government has said that China is in continued non-compliance status with the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the treaty signed between the two countries that guaranteed Hong Kongs rights and freedoms following its return to Beijing in 1997. The United Kingdom has said it is “unprepared for any potential future challenges” from China over its reversion of the island back to Beijing. The U.K. government said China is in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a treaty signed by the two countries that guarantees Hong Kongs rights and freedoms after the city was handed back to Beijing in 1997 Hong Kongs the city handed. The government announced the UK will return Hong Kong to the Peoples Republic effective 1 July 1997.
In 1984, 13 years prior to the formal transfer, The Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed to allow China partial control of Hong Kong, with the result being China becoming one country with two political systems. As late as 1997, when the UK handed Hong Kong back to China after over 150 years in its hands, China agreed to keep Hong Kongs government regime implemented by Britain for 50 years.
In 1997, Britain handed Hong Kong back to China, ending the 99-year lease, and an event dreaded and anticipated by residents, Chinese, English, and others around the world. Hong Kong spent over 130 years as a Crown Colony of the British Empire, until 1997, when the tiny Kowloon Peninsula and the islands it borders were returned to China. On 1 July 1997, a 99-year lease ended, and 19th-century Britain handed over control of British Hong Kong and surrounding territories to the Peoples Republic of China. Shortly thereafter, the United Kingdom also took over a further territory known as the New Territories under a 99-year lease which was set to end in 1997.
The New Territories were leased by China for 99 years starting in 1898. In 1898, in order to ensure British control over Kowloon, Britain granted a further lease on the land known as the New Territories, with a promise that additional land would be returned to China after 99 years. On 9 June 1898, the British signed an agreement with China leasing Hong Kong, the Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territory–the rest of the Kowloon Peninsula north of Boundary Street, additional territories beyond Kowloon to the Sham Chun River, and more than 200 outlying islands. As the New Territory lease was coming to an end, China and the United Kingdom began the process of negotiations for all three pieces of land.
Beginning in 1982, with the leases expiration approaching, China and the British Empire worked out a set of agreements that would shape the fate of the colonies. In September 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and the Chinese signed an official deal that approved a return to sovereignty in return for the Chinese promise to maintain Hong Kongs capitalist system. In 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinas Premier Zhao Ziyang signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreeing that China would grant Hong Kong a measure of political and social autonomy under the “one country, two systems” policy over the course of a 50-year period. Three years later, Deng Xiaoping received the former British Prime Minister Edward Heath, who had been sent as the Special Envoy by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to ascertain an understanding of the PRCs plans regarding Hong Kongs return; in their meeting, Deng laid out his plans to turn Hong Kong into a Special Economic Zone, where it would maintain its capitalist system while remaining within Chinese sovereignty.
The 99-year lease ended in 1997, at which point the United Kingdom returned Hong Kong to mainland China as a special administrative region (SAR), called the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic of China (HKSAR). The 99-year lease ended July 1, 1997, and since then, tensions have continued between residents and the PRC, though Hong Kong remains functionally separated from China. When the British handed their colony Hong Kong over to Beijing in 1997, Hong Kong was promised 50 years of autonomy, as well as the free assembly, speech, and press not allowed to Chinese people on mainland China under communist rule. It was ultimately decided that Hong Kong would be run over the next 50 years as a Special Administrative Region, following the one country, two systems principle, which allowed Hong Kong to retain levels of autonomy similar to those experienced under British rule.
David Gray/Reuters The first chief executive of Hong Kong, Tung Chee-hwa, smiles during Hong Kongs inauguration as a Special Administrative Region, Hong Kongs official transfer of power from the British government to Beijing, July 1, 1997.
The declaration said that the PRC would work with all social groups, sectors, and stakeholders toward the ultimate goal of electing a Chief Executive and LegCo through universal suffrage, and it further noted that the Constitution and Hong Kong Basic Law together enable HKSAR to exercise a high degree of autonomy, and affirms the Central authorities power to monitor the exercise of this autonomy. The proposed legislation on Article 23 sought to fulfill the requirement in Article 23 of the Basic Law, the mini-constitution of Hong Kong, for Hong Kong to implement its laws that criminalize treason, sedition, and secession from China. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt attempted to lobby British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965) to return Hong Kong to China as a quid pro quo for British support during the First Sino-Japanese War of the 19th century, but Churchill refused.