01.07.

1997: Transfer of Hong Kong from Great Britain to China

1997: Transfer of Hong Kong from Great Britain to China
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 1 July 1997
  • Prince Charles boarded the royal yacht Britannia and sailed from Hong Kong together with governor Chris Patten (later a prominent member of the European Commission) and his family. It is interesting that Communist China accepted Hong Kong according to the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, i.e. it allowed Hong Kong to keep its capitalist system.

On this day in 1997, Great Britain ceremoniously transferred the sovereignty over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China.

The reason for the return of Hong Kong to China was the fact that Britain acquired the greater part of its territory in 1898, by a contracted 99-year lease. The lease was due to expire in 1997, so it was time to honor the contract.

The handover ceremony started in the evening of the previous day (30 June) when Prince Charles gave a farewell speech on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. Fireworks were held that night and the British flag was lowered to the sound of the national anthem “God Save the Queen” at midnight.

On this day, Hong Kong was officially passed into the hands of the Chinese. The Chinese flag was raised to the Chinese national anthem.

Also present was Tony Blair, who had become the British Prime Minister only two months prior, and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Prince Charles boarded the royal yacht Britannia and sailed from Hong Kong together with governor Chris Patten (later a prominent member of the European Commission) and his family.

It is interesting that Communist China accepted Hong Kong according to the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, i.e. it allowed Hong Kong to keep its capitalist system.

Even to this day, China maintains some specific British customs in Hong Kong. For example, the English language is still taught in all the schools and the vehicles continue to drive on the left (the rest of China drives on the right).

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