The Fate of Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a British colony, ...but not for long. Hong Kong will become the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China on July 1, 1997 when Britain's lease is up. China promises not to change Hong Kong for at least fifty years, but this is not stopping Hong Kong residents from worrying about how their new life will be. The whole world is watching to find out ...the fate of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong previously was a small fishing community. Hong Kong was especially vulnerable to pirates as well as opium dealers. Britain, originally, acquired Hong Kong for use as a naval base during the Opium Wars, and because of its magnificent natural harbor, Victoria Harbour. After the first Opium War, Britain acquired Hong Kong through the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. The Treaty of Nanjing ended the first Opium War. In 1898, it was agreed that Great Britain would control all lands previously owned by China for 99 years.
Many times, throughout the history of Hong Kong, Chinese would flee to Hong Kong in search of refuge. Since Hong Kong was a "free" land, the Chinese people felt safe there. Hong Kong is 98 percent Chinese with 5,800,000 Chinese people. Hong Kong also has 57,000 Filipinos, 60,000 British and Americans, and 30,000 Indians. Hong Kong is extremely dense with 13,976 people per square mile. Now more than 60,000 people emigrate from Hong Kong a year.
The unit of currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar. One U.S. is equal to 7.5853 Hong Kong dollars. The Hong Kong dollar is not widely used. Because of the trading in Hong Kong many different currencies are used. The Hong Kong dollar, being used so rarely, would not be ideal for trading use.
Hong Kong is a very important trading port for the world. Victoria Harbour is one of the largest and most active ports in the world. Hong Kong, as a trading port, is especially important for China. Since China is so near Hong Kong, both China's imports and exports go through Hong Kong. Hong Kong is also an important trading port for Great Britain. Hong Kong's imports are valued at 72.2 billion dollars. Hong Kong's exports are valued at 73.1 billion dollars. This is very good for Hong Kong's economy. Both China and Britain gain by having control of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is governed with guidance from London. The people of Hong Kong are pleased with their government at the moment. The government is assisted by a fourteen member executive council. There is also a sixty member legislative council. Hong Kong also has a supreme court. The supreme court is divided into the Court of Appeal, and the High Court.
In September of 1984, China and Great Britain reached an agreement. The agreement was reached in Hong Kong about the fate of Hong Kong. China and Great Britain agreed that on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong would become a Chinese colony. Hong Kong will be allowed to maintain its own legal, social, and economic affairs for at least fifty years. However, China would assume responsibility for Hong Kong's foreign affairs and defense.
The people of Hong Kong are now leaving. They are trying to get away from Chinese rule. Many of them came to Hong Kong from China because of the Chinese government. The Chinese government will not change Hong Kong's way of life for fifty years, or so they say. While Hong Kong will remain democratic for fifty years, their way of life will be changed dramatically. Many people think that Hong Kong will not be left for fifty years. They think that China will want to get a head-start on making Hong Kong more like China. Others feel that China will leave Hong Kong alone for fifty years, but after that ...Hong Kong is in for a shock. Finally, a few people feel that China will leave Hong Kong for fifty years and after that adapt Hong Kong slowly.
Britain is also expected to be greatly affected by the loss of Hong Kong. Since Britain is not near Hong Kong, like China, Britain stands to loose by giving up Hong Kong. Also, Britain will have less interaction with Hong Kong and in turn Hong Kong stands to loose Britain as a major trading partner. Britain will also suffer by not having Hong Kong as such a great trading port. Hong Kong and Britain will loose in the categories of both, imports and exports.
For the first fifty years of China's rules, Hong Kong will remain a major trading port to the world. China will also gain from Hong Kong, but not as much as what it thought. When Chinese trade through Hong Kong is thought about, people figure in all Chinese trade along with South China's trade and Guangdong's trade. China stands to make a small gain because of the short distance from China to Hong Kong. In 1989, Hong Kong handled forty-eight percent of China's total trade, while thirty-nine percent of the exports were re-exports. This leaves a very small amount of the exports as China's true exports.
Hong Kong has a prime location for trade and that will always be a great factor in the amount of trade that goes through Hong Kong. No matter who is in control of Hong Kong it will always be a large trading port. The question is; after fifty years, will Hong Kong still be an open, international port. Hong Kong's trade is vital to China as well as Asia. Many historians feel that Hong Kong will remain an open port for much longer than fifty years.
Hong Kong is facing many problems in the future. China is also facing these problems. Chinese officials fear that Hong Kong merchants and citizens will resent the Chinese. The citizens of Hong Kong and the Chinese will have great problems if they do not work out their differences. Life in the future will be very difficult for both the Chinese and the citizens of Hong Kong if they do not get along. Since the people of Hong Kong and the Chinese will be doing much of their business together they must work out their differences quickly, before July.
Chinese officials are worried that the citizens of China will be upset that they must follow the Chinese government while the Chinese citizens in Hong Kong will still have their democratic way of life.
The fate of Hong Kong after fifty years is unknown. It is suspected that China will change Hong Kong's government to be like China's. Hong Kong's population is expected to decrease dramatically in the near future. many people living in Hong Kong now will leave Hong Kong to get away from China's rule. However, many Chinese are expected to emigrate to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is also very important to America. In the future, the way in which the United States Government deals with Hong Kong will affect how the government deals with China. Most Americans, however, are not worried about our future relationship with Hong Kong or China. Few are concerned with how trade will change because most are very optimistic, feeling that trade will barely change.
The fate of Hong Kong is unknown and will stay that way until July 1. People, however, can say and guess what they want. But the truth is nobody really knows the true fate of Hong Kong. Whether China will keep its promise and not touch Hong Kong for fifty years, no one knows. People suspect that China will leave Hong Kong untouched, but then again they can only suspect not know. One thing is for sure, however, Britain and China are going to change along with the rest of the world. Neither Britain nor China might change very much, but they will change. Britain might stay trading partners with Hong Kong, but it will never be as close. Britain might not lose trade or money, but it will not be the same as it was when it had the most powerful trading port in the world. China, on the other hand, stands to gain the most powerful trading port in the world. If they will keep it this way, no one knows. How China will govern Hong Kong, no one knows. No matter what happens on July 1, 1997, the world is going to change, maybe not for the worse, maybe not for the better, but the world is going to change.