Sino-British Joint Declaration

The Sino-British Joint Declaration is 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.

Sino-British Joint Declaration
Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong
The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where the Joint Declaration was signed
ContextAgreement on the future of Hong Kong
DraftedJune–September 1984
Signed19 December 1984
LocationGreat Hall of the People, Beijing, People's Republic of China
Effective27 May 1985
ConditionExchange of ratifications
NegotiatorsBritish delegation led by Percy Craddock and Richard Evans, Chinese delegation led by Yao Guang and Zhou Nan
Signatories
Parties
Languages
Sino-British Joint Declaration at Wikisource
Sino–British Joint Declaration
Traditional Chinese中英聯合聲明
Simplified Chinese中英联合声明
Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong
Traditional Chinese大不列顛及北愛爾蘭聯合王國政府和中華人民共和國政府關於香港問題的聯合聲明
Simplified Chinese大不列颠及北爱尔兰联合王国政府和中华人民共和国政府关于香港问题的联合声明

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.

China has stated since 2014 that it considers the treaty to be spent with no further legal effect, while the United Kingdom maintains that the document remains binding in operation. Following China's 2020 imposition of national security legislation on Hong Kong and a 2021 National People's Congress decision to approve a rework of local election laws that reduces the number of regional legislature seats elected by the public, the UK has declared China as being in a "state of ongoing non-compliance" with the Joint Declaration.