History, Language & Culture Hong Kong
The region of Hong Kong has been inhabited since the Old Stone Age, later becoming part of the Chinese empire with its loose incorporation into the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC). Starting out as a farming fishing village and salt production site, it became an important free port and eventually a major international financial centre.
The Qing dynasty ceded Hong Kong to the British Empire in 1842 through the treaty of Nanjing, ending the First Opium War. Hong Kong then became a British crown colony. Britain also won the Second Opium War, forcing the Qing Empire to cede Kowloon in 1860, while leasing the New Territories for 99 years from 1898.
Japan occupied Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945 during the Second World War. By the end of the war in 1945, Hong Kong had been liberated by joint British and Chinese troops and returned to British rule. Hong Kong greatly increased its population from refugees from Mainland China, particularly during the Korea War and the Great Leap Forward. In the 1950s, Hong Kong transformed from a territory of entrepot trade to one of industry and manufacturing. The Chinese economic reform prompted manufacturers to relocate to China, leading Hong Kong to develop its commercial and financial industry.
In 1984, the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which incited a wave of emigration from Hong Kong. The Handover of Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule, and it adopted the Hong Kong Basic Law.
In the 21st century, Hong Kong has continued to enjoy success as a financial centre. However, civil unrest, dissatisfaction with the government and Chinese influence, in general, has been a central issue. The planned implementation of Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23 caused great controversy and a massive demonstration on 1 July 2003, causing the bill to be shelved. Citizens expressed displeasure at their electoral system, culminating in the 2014 Hong Kong protests. In 2019, the proposed Hong Kong extradition bill was seen as another step taken by the Chinese Communist Party to undermine the law and human rights in Hong Kong, instigating multiple protests. In 2020, the National People's Congress passed a national security law that was highly scrutinized by the pro-democracy faction; it was a catalyst that provoked many protests throughout the territory. Languages used are Chinese and English.