Special Administrative Region Establishment Day in Hong Kong is a public holiday that is celebrated by the citizens of Hong Kong.
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The holiday is oriented around the transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty from Great Britain to the People’s Republic of China. While some people view Special Administrative Region Establishment Day as a time to recognize Hong Kong’s independence, many of Hong Kong’s citizens use the holiday as an opportunity to voice their political opinions. Other Hong Kong citizens may celebrate Chinese patriotism or the economic growth of Hong Kong. Special Administrative Region Establishment Day is celebrated on July 1st each year.
Hong Kong has an interesting history that led to its establishment as a special administrative region. To fully understand the importance of Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, you must learn about British imperialism during the 19th century.
During the 1800s, Great Britain sought to expand its economic and diplomatic influence throughout the globe. Through imperialism, Great Britain became very powerful. The British Empire’s standard model of securing power was to send a company to a country like India or China. Once the company established a colony, the local resources and labor would be exploited. The vast majority of the profits were returned to Great Britain. In India, British companies discovered that they could utilize poppy plants to manufacture opium in large quantities. After creating opium, the British companies would sell the product to traders who traveled to Chinese ports. Many Chinese people across mainland China became addicted to opium and purchased products from British traders in very large quantities. This epidemic of opium addiction in China led to many health and social problems among the Chinese people.
Eventually, the Chinese government discovered the source of the opium problem and addressed the British government. The Chinese prime minister demanded that the British Empire stop trading opium in Chinese ports. The British initially denied that they had anything to do with the opium problem in China. After diplomatic discussions broke down, a small war erupted between China and Great Britain. Heavily outgunned, the Chinese lost this Opium War and decided to surrender to the British Empire. The government of Great Britain agreed to leave mainland China alone as long as the Treaty of Nanjing was signed. The representative of China reluctantly agreed to the treaty and Great Britain honored the agreement.
The Treaty of Nanjing granted Great Britain exclusive control of Hong Kong island and Kowloon for 99 years. Great Britain also gained access to numerous ports and territories near Hong Kong. Under British control, the people of Hong Kong experienced a relatively stable economy that was based on the principles of free trade capitalism. Eventually, Hong Kong became an envied economic power in East Asia.
Prior to the expiration of the Treaty of Nanjing, Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher met to discuss the future of Hong Kong in 1982. During this meeting, the two leaders decided on the future of Hong Kong. They ultimately decided that Hong Kong would be governed according to a policy known as ‘One Country, Two Systems’. The ‘One Country, Two Systems’ policy states that Hong Kong will be a region of Hong Kong for 50 years. During this time, Hong Kong will retain its current economic model. This policy was formally agreed upon in the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984. The declaration was signed by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang.
The United Kingdom formally handed Hong Kong over to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. The transition ceremony was televised across the globe. This sparked many debates about the future of Hong Kong.
Special Administrative Region Establishment Day is a holiday that is often centered around politics.
- Many of Hong Kong’s citizens use the holiday to express their distaste for government action and human rights violations. One of the primary goals of these protesters is to grant universal voting rights for all of Hong Kong’s citizens. Protesters often wear black clothing on Special Administrative Region Establishment Day.Other Festivities
- There are also many festive activities, including fireworks displays, live music, and dragon dances.
Special Administrative Region Establishment Day is a public holiday in Hong Kong that recognizes Hong Kong’s transition from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China.