July 1, 1997
Its 99-year lease about to expire, Great Britain agreed to end 156 years of colonial rule of Hong Kong. With a population of 5 million, it was Britain’s largest remaining colony.
• Under the terms of a “one country, two systems” model set forth in a 1984 joint declaration, Hong Kong would revert to Chinese rule but maintain for 50 years its capitalist economy, a form of democracy and a legal system modeled after that of England. As a special administrative region within China, Hong Kong’s defense and foreign policy would be run by the mainland. • In the decade since Gov. Chris Patten (pictured above) departed Government House, those promises have been largely kept. • Democracy activists continue to push for reforms, with the right to directly elect Hong Kong’s leaders at the top of their agenda.