Handover of Hong Kong

The Hong Kong handover, domestically known as the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, was the formal passing of authority over the territory of the colony of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China at midnight on 1 July 1997. This event ended 156 years of British rule in the former colony. Hong Kong was reestablished as a special administrative region of China, and largely continues to maintain its existing economic and, until recently,[1][better source needed] governing systems distinct from those of mainland China.

Handover of Hong Kong
Date1 July 1997
Time00:00 (HKT)
LocationHong Kong
Participants China
United Kingdom
Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong
Traditional Chinese香港主權移交
Simplified Chinese香港主权移交
Hong Kong reunification
Traditional Chinese香港回歸
Simplified Chinese香港回归

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; 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 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration had set the conditions under which Hong Kong was to be transferred, with China agreeing to maintain existing structures of government and economy under a principle of "one country, two systems" for a period of 50 years. Hong Kong became China's first special administrative region; it was followed by Macau after its transfer from Portugal in 1999.

With a 1997 population of about 6.5 million, Hong Kong constituted 97 percent of the total population of all British Dependent Territories at the time and was one of the UK's last significant colonial territories. The transfer, which was marked by a handover ceremony attended by Charles, Prince of Wales and broadcast around the world, is often considered to mark the definitive end of the British Empire.