|HONG KONG: RETURNING TO THE FOLD|
January 10, 1997
in this forum:
How will education of Hong Kong school-age children change? What will happen to religious freedom in Hong Kong after the transfer ? Are the restrictions on China enforceable? What will life be like in Hong Kong in the year 2000? What's the prognosis for the future of the independent media in Hong Kong? How will the recording of economic data change? Will China phase out the HK dollar and replace it with the Yuan? What will be China's attitude towards the Eurocurrency market ? Has China made any specific commitment to holding free elections to parliament after the transition? What will the U.N. do if China does not? Viewer comments
Online NewsHour Links
December 17, 1996: As the Chinese defense minister tours the U.S., the NewsHour looks at human rights abuses in China.
November 21, 1996: A NewsHour report on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and Asia's economy, the fastest growing, most dynamic region in the world. .
The NewsHour Asia Index.
The Hong Kong Transition Project analyses the nature and direction of political development over the transition period of 1984- 1997.
The Better Hong Kong Foundation is a pro-China, privately-funded organization formed by leading business people in Hong Kong to encourage confidence in Hong Kong's business capabilities, and stronger links with China as a whole.
A government overview of Hong Kong's economy.
On July 1, 1997, the British colony of Hong Kong will revert to the People's Republic of China (PRC). The six million people of Hong Kong are now facing critical decisions about modernization processes and the international standing of their sovereign to be, the PRC. Despite much planning and negotiations, the transition promises to be a tricky one, an event that will reveal much about the workings of democracy, the links between a blooming economy and modern Communism, and the complications of a interconnected global economy.
China has already begun to exert influence over Hong Kong. In December 1996, China's Communist rulers named 60 pro-Beijing stalwarts to a new interim legislature, ignoring international criticism. They also chose shipping tycoon C.H. Tung as Hong Kong's next leader. The appointees will replace the democratically elected body that China says it will eliminate when it takes control. The provisional legislature is expected to rewrite anti-subversion laws that the outgoing British government had modified and toughen laws on freedom of information.
British officials say China should agree to have the International Court of Justice in the Hague arbitrate the dispute and decide whether the establishment of an interim legislature is, as London charges, a violation of the 1984 treaty that laid out the transfer of Hong Kong stewardship from Great Britain to China. The United States has issued a condemnation of China, in which State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns called Beijing's actions "unjustified and unnecessary."
Prior to the arrival of the British, Hong Kong was a small fishing community and a haven for travellers and pirates in the South China Sea. During the Opium Wars with China in the Nineteenth Century, Britain used the territory as a naval base. Following the end of the first Opium War, the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 ceded Hong Kong to Britain in perpetuity. In 1898 Britain acquired the New Territories on a 99-year lease.
After a four-year Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945, Hong Kong began to swell, in population and wealth. In the period 1948-49, as the forces of the Chinese Nationalist Government began to face defeat in civil war at the hands of the communists, Hong Kong received an influx unparalleled in its history. Hundreds of thousands of people - mainly from Guangdong province, Shanghai and other commercial centers - entered the territory during 1949 and the spring of 1950, the population had swelled to an estimated 2.2 million. Since then, it has continued to rise and now totals six million.
The constant influx from China of capital and manpower led to the establishment of light manufacturing throughout the territory by the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, Hong Kong's tax policies began to attract growing foreign investment further adding to the territories rapid growth.
In 1984, the Joint Declaration signed by Britain and China agreed that the sovereignty of Hong Kong would revert back to China in 1997. Hong Kong will, from July 1, 1997, become a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China. The Joint Declaration also provides that for 50 years after 1997, Hong Kong's lifestyle will remain unchanged.
Our forum asks: What will happen to Hong Kong once the transition takes place? Should the U.S. be concerned with China's role in shaping this new economic powerhouse? Will the change harm or help Hong Kong's economy and production capability?
Our guest is the director of the Hong Kong Transition Project. Professor Michael E. DeGolyer is a professor of Government and International Studies Department, Hong Kong Baptist University. He has written extensively on the issues of Hong Kong's transfer from Great Britain to China and has participated in seminars and conferences with the Hong Kong American Chamber of Commerce, Asia 2000 Foundation, and other organizations.
Questions asked in this forum:
What will happen to religious freedom in Hong Kong after the transfer ? What will be the changes in the education of Hong Kong school-age children ? Are the restrictions on China enforceable? What will life be like in Hong Kong in the year 2000? What's the prognosis for the future of the independent media in Hong Kong? How will the recording of economic data change? Will China phase out the HK dollar and replace it with the Yuan? What will be China's attitude towards the Eurocurrency market ? Has China made any specific commitment to hold free elections to parliament after the transition? What will the U.N. do if it refuses? Viewer comments