Hong Kong: 20 years of history

View from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong
View from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

1 July 2017 sees the twentieth anniversary of the end of more than 150 years of British control of Hong Kong.

A lot can happen in twenty years.


The sovereignty of Hong Kong transfers from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China on 1 July.


Members of the 1st Legislative Council of Hong Kong are elected on 24 May.


Hong Kong’s new international airport, located on the island of Chek Lap Kok, is named one of the top ten construction achievements of the 20th century.


By-elections are held on 10 December, when Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) member Gary Cheng declines to accept his seat.


To promote the idea of environmentalism, the Chinese white dolphin is adopted as the mascot of the Hong Kong Stamp Exhibition, which runs from 1-5 February, in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.


Sixteen members of the spiritual movement Falun Gong are arrested in Hong Kong on 14 March, sparking tensions between the territory and Beijing.


An estimated 500,000 people protest against Article 23 on 1 July.  The proposed anti-subversion law threatens to inhibit press, religious and social freedoms.


A record number of people vote in legislative elections on 12 September.


Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, resigns on 10 March.  He had become increasingly unpopular since the Article 23 protests of 2003.


The People’s Liberation Army stage a march on 1 July as part of a show of strength by pro-Beijing groups.


Independent Party candidate, Anson Chan, secures the greatest proportion of the vote in by-elections held on 2 December.


Hong Kong provides the venue for the Olympics and Paralympics equestrian events.


The first case of Influenza A Virus Subtype H1N1, more commonly known as swine flu, is reported on 1 May, leading to a subsequent flu pandemic.


The Prostrating Walk of the Five Districts takes place from 5-8 January as a protest against a new Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed rail link.


Hong Kong artists and activists stage a series of street art protests calling for the release of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who had been held in detention since 3 April.


Leung Chun-ying assumes the office of Chief Executive of Hong Kong on 1 July.


US National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden flees from Hawaii to Hong Kong, arriving on 20 May.


The Umbrella Revolution, which started in September, saw violent protests on the streets of Hong Kong by disaffected students and citizens, campaigning against proposed electoral reforms.


Jia Jia becomes the oldest living Giant Panda in captivity, celebrating her 37th birthday on 28 July at Ocean Park theme park.


Weather weirding hits Hong Kong, with -5 degrees Celsius recorded on Tai Mon Shan in January; four consecutive days in June recording temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius; and super typhoon Haima bringing chaos in October.


1 July sees the twentieth anniversary of Hong Kong’s change of sovereignty from the UK to China.

How has Hong Kong changed in that time?  Perhaps just as important: how has China changed?  Arguably, the growth of megacities on the Chinese mainland, such as Shanghai, have diminished Hong Kong’s position as a trade and financial capital, but there is no doubt that Hong Kong still retains a distinct status within China, both politically and culturally.

It will be interesting to witness both Hong Kong’s and China’s journey over the next twenty years.


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