How Hong Kong Changed Countries

This video was made possible by Dashlane. Stay safe online for free by signing up at This is Hong Kong. 177 years ago, as the conclusion of the First
Opium War, the United Kingdom and China signed a treaty that read, “His Majesty the Emperor
of China cedes to Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, etc., the Island of Hong-Kong,
to be possessed in perpetuity by her Britannic Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and to
be governed by such Laws and Regulations as Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, etc.,
shall see fit to direct.” With that, the British empire got just a little
bit bigger. The population of the island in that year
was reported as 7,450. Nobody would have imagined what this island,
dotted only by a few fishing villages, would become. Fast forward 18 years: another Opium War,
another treaty. “It has now been agreed between the Governments
of Great Britain and China that the limits of British territory shall be enlarged under
lease.” Fast forward 38 years: the third and final
agreement. “It has now been agreed between the Governments
of Great Britain and China that the limits of British territory shall be enlarged under
lease to the extent indicated generally on the annexed map… The term of this lease shall be ninety-nine
years.” Ninety-nine years: as good as forever to the
signers of this agreement. This forever, though, had an end and that
end was 1997. That didn’t matter at first, though. Hong Kong grew and grew and grew and grew
into one of the richest, most powerful, and most developed cities in the world. It became the business center of Asia. It thrived under a strong capitalistic economic
model but then, as forever drew nearer, a question loomed over the city. Was it really going to go back to China? That’s the question British Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher had for Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leader, when she visited Beijing
in 1982. The answer was effectively yes, in China’s
eyes, Hong Kong would return in 1997. Now, it’s important to note that it was
only the lease of this portion, the New Territories, that expired in 1997. Kowloon and Hong Kong island were ceded in
perpetuity which meant that according to the terms of the agreements Britain could have
kept these areas. Hong Kong as a whole, though, is small enough
already and the city had very much grown into the New Territories so it was decided early
on that these negotiations were effectively over what would happen to Hong Kong as a whole—it
would be too impractical to divide up the quite integrated city into different parts. Eventually, after years of back and forth,
a decision was reached in the last days of 1984: Hong Kong would go back to China in
1997 but the Hong Kong Way of life, with a capitalistic system and democratic government,
would remain untouched for fifty years after the handover until 2047. Hong Kong would become a semi-autonomous region
of China. With that, a clock started ticking. There were 12 years, 6 months, and 12 days
left until Hong Kong would change from British to Chinese. In those twelve and a half years an enormous
amount of planning and preparation was conducted in order to carry out one of the only modern
instances of the change in sovereignty of a city as large and influential as Hong Kong
between two countries so different. In fact, this was the first time a capitalistic
territory had been handed over to a communist state. Conducting such a monumental shift was no
easy feat. As such a significant business hub, Hong Kong
based companies were some of the first to make their handover plans. There was, at the time, a lot of uncertainty
about what would happen to the territory post-Handover so many companies restructured to be legally
registered elsewhere. Jardine Matheson, for example, one of the
most prominent Hong Kong companies, moved their legal headquarters to Bermuda and their
stock listing to Singapore even if their de-facto headquarters remained in Hong Kong. HSBC, which stands for the Hong Kong and Shanghai
Banking Corporation, legally transferred many of their assets to their London office, as
well. Companies typically didn’t leave Hong Kong
but rather set themselves up to be able to in case the Handover went badly. In addition to companies, individual people
made their Handover plans as well. Now, opinions were mixed on this grand change. There was no one resounding view on whether
the change in sovereignty was good or bad for Hong Kong. When surveyed in 1991, for example, about
57% of respondents were confident in Hong Kong’s future while 35% were not. Of those 35% who were not, many chose to move
elsewhere and there began a period of mass migration away from Hong Kong. A staggering 800,000 people left in the twelve
and a half years leading up to the handover, according to estimates. Overwhelmingly, Hong Kongers settled in Australia
or Canada, likely because they were commonwealth countries, and the US. Over 110,000 Hong Kongers settled in Vancouver
alone—a city still shaped by this wave of mass migration. Many, though, were just migrating temporarily
for a few years to gain Canadian citizenship. With this, like companies, they would have
a way to get out of Hong Kong if things went wrong. Hong Kongers could also get a special type
of passport that was first introduced in 1985 in the lead-up to the Handover. It was called the British National Overseas
passport and it works differently to a British passport. It gives visa-free access to 118 countries,
fewer than a full British passport, and noticeably, does not give the right for someone to live
and work in the UK. Holders can only stay in the UK for up to
six months and are not considered European Union citizens. These passports are still valid today and
can be renewed for anyone born in Hong Kong prior to the handover. There was a huge and increasing rush of people
at registration for these passports in the years leading up to the Handover with millions
overall being issued. While today’s Hong Kong Special administrative
region passport is more powerful in terms of visa-free access to countries, holders
of British National Overseas passports, as British nationals, get the same consular assistance
and protection as a full British citizen in case a holder runs into trouble outside the
UK, at least on paper. For this reason, hundreds of thousands still
renew these passports to this day despite their redundancy. As the date of the Handover drew nearer, though,
the government started focusing on the changes they needed to make. Of course there were enormous changes to the
entire structure of government, the laws, the legal system, and more but there were
also small changes to be made, plenty of which were visual. For example, they needed a new flag. The previous flag, which included the British
Union Jack, certainly wouldn’t work under Chinese rule. A contest was held with 7,000 submissions
but all were rejected. In the end, one of the contest’s judges,
Architect Tao Ho, came up with this design which was eventually approved to be the new
flag in April 1990. But there were plenty of other signs of British-ness
in Hong Kong. The emblem of the police force included a
crown and the word, “royal,” so that had to be changed too. They eventually came up with a new design
that swapped out British symbols and replaced all uniforms at a cost of $2.8 million US
dollars. The word, “royal,” in fact, was removed
from basically every institution from the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club to the Royal Hong
Kong Golf Club. They just became the Hong Kong Jockey Club
and the Hong Kong Golf Club. There was just plenty of sign changing city-wide. Hong Kong’s post-boxes were another symbol
that needed altering. Most, at the time, were imported from Britain
and therefore were the iconic red pillar box style featuring a crown. Most of these were progressively removed with
all being painted green to distinguish them from the UK’s. As the days of British rule dwindled, focus
shifted towards planning the actual event of the handover. Now, this event was of enormous significance
to Hong Kong, China, Britain, and the world. The BBC described it as the biggest planned
event they had ever covered. What was known was that the event would be
centered around midnight on the night of July 30th, 1997—the exact moment of the reversion
to Chinese rule. As you can imagine, the two governments, Britain
and China, each crucially desiring the best possible optics for their side, negotiated
relentlessly on the details of the event. For example, there was a long dispute on which
flags would raise and lower in which order. Britain wanted the British Hong Kong flag
lowered first followed by the Union Jack flag to signify a dignified retreat from the colony. China wanted the Chinese flag to be raised
at the same time as the British flag was lowered to signify an instantaneous resumption in
sovereignty. China also wanted the new Hong Kong flag to
replace the British Hong Kong flag on the same flagpole. In the end, a compromise was reached to lower
the Union Jack and British Hong Kong flags at the same time then raise the Chinese and
new Hong Kong flags at the same time. There were also other subtle negotiated details
such as: the Convention center, where the event was to be held, was designed to have
chairs facing south towards the stage. For this event, though, a stage was built
on the north side so the attendees would look north possibly for the symbolism of looking
towards China. Eventually, though, the meticulously negotiated
invites went out to thousands of dignitaries and VIP’s. One week before the handover, the Royal Yacht
Britannia sailed into Victoria harbor and moored to the pier. It would serve as home to Prince Charles,
who would represent the United Kingdom, during the handover. Over the next week, the majority of the handover’s
VIP’s, including Prince Charles, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former British
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, American Secretary of State Madeline Albright, and
plenty more arrived in the city. That week was a week of lasts: the last meeting
of the Hong Kong executive council, the last changing of the guards at the British garrison,
and then it was just the last day of Britain in Hong Kong—Monday, June 30th, 1997. The process kicked off with a 4pm ceremony
at Government House marking the final departure of Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong
Kong, from what had been his official residence for the previous five years. At 4:30, that first of his goodbyes was completed
and he was driven to the Royal Yacht Britannia to join the rest of the British delegation. Shortly after, around 5:30, a chartered Air
China 747 touched down at Kai Tak airport carrying Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Premier
Li Peng, and the rest of the Chinese delegation. Then, at 7:11 pm, the sun set on British Hong
Kong for the final time. Minutes later, the 4,000 lucky individuals
invited to the handover ceremony gathered at the convention center for a cocktail reception. At 8pm, an enormous fireworks display started
in Victoria harbor and then at 9 the handover guests sat down for their banquet dinner at
the Convention Center. Simultaneously, around 500 Chinese People’s
Liberation Army troops were allowed over the border to move into position and ensure that
there would never be a lapse in the defense of Hong Kong. At 30 minutes to midnight, dinner was over
and the ceremony began. Prince Charles gave remarks bidding the territory
goodbye on behalf of the Queen then about a minute to midnight, God Save the Queen was
played and the British and British Hong Kong flags were slowly and simultaneously lowered,
just as negotiated. Then, in an instant, when the clock struck
midnight, Hong Kong was Chinese again, just like that. The new Hong Kong and Chinese flags were then
raised to the Chinese national anthem and Chinese President Jiang Zemin gave a speech. 15 minutes past midnight, Prince Charles and
governor Chris Patten boarded the Royal Yacht Britannia and sailed out of Victoria harbor
for the final time. Prime Minister Tony Blair and most of the
rest of the British delegation then boarded a chartered British Airways 777 at Kai Tak
Airport which swiftly took off bound for London Heathrow. By 3:30 am, all the British forces tasked
with guarding Hong Kong until midnight had boarded flights and taken off from the Chinese
territory and with that, Britain was gone from Hong Kong, for good. Whenever I talk about Dashlane, the password
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Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. Hey all, in case you don't know already, the numbers in the bottom, left corner of the video correspond to the sources of information at the bottom of the description. Many of those are good further reading on the topic.

    Also, I just want to acknowledge one small narration slip-up. At 7:14 I say, "What was known was that the event would be centered around midnight on the night of July 30th, 1997." That should be June 30th, 1997.

  2. Funniest story is happening :
    The son is telling Dad, you not my dad, but Mr U & B are my real Sugar Daddy. But the son is staying in side Dad's house

  3. In short, they left a problem that they could not solve to their descendent, and hope they could somehow solve it………..

  4. It's such a shame about Britain handing over Hong Kong to China. Hopefully, the protesters keep it up, they have to for their freedom.

  5. 哈哈哈!不少香港富人子女英文比中文還要好。而且亦不容許你令他們後代中國化。

  6. A ceremony in which the people of a free, democratic, capitalist nation hand over the keys to an unstable, communist power can never be anything but sad. Power to the people of Hong Kong and Macau and may their freedom never be extinguished.

  7. 英国侵华战争,鸦片战争,在香港高高在上,当中国人是奴隶,谁又同情过当时的中国人!现在的香港傻逼,还愿意当狗,真不懂!当狗的滋味很舒服啊?我一点不会同情英国,这片土地永远属于华夏!

  8. Hong Kong should have been allowed to decide its own future by voting. China has violated the terms of the Sino-British handover agreement which says that "The current social and economic systems in Hong Kong will remain unchanged, and so will the life-style" [including rights and freedoms] for 50 years. It doesn't say that China can gradually integrate Hong Kong by attempting to change their laws, it says it should remain unchanged until 2047. It also says that the government of Hong Kong is responsible for maintaining public order, and that Chinese military is not allowed to interfere in Hong Kong internal affairs. If China sends military to Hong Kong that will be a further violation of the agreement. Of course, the UK has become so weak that we won't be doing anything about it and China doesn't care if it violates the agreement.

  9. Whenever I think about this handover, I always feel bad for Britain. Nobody knew those 99 years ago that the British would turn it into a superpower. I understand that it is the deal, but I just can't help but think what will happen to Hong Kong in 2047 when the Chinese take control. Who knows what will happen? I basically think of this whole situation like this: China gives Hong Kong to Britain for 99 years to make it a prosperous city and get it back. All, keep In mind, as a gift!

  10. WTF
    香港现在属于中国,即使再怎么被西方操纵,它也属于中国。不需要你们这些道貌岸然的伪君子在这里BB! (对不起,我不屑于用英语表达)

  11. 黑衣人內心認同美國至上,白人優等,不希望中國人打破傳統。

  12. It's sad that, Hong Kong left the British!! Hopefully they'll join the British again before the next deadline where there two systems policy ends!!

  13. Here's the story. A robber take a child away from a poor and weak family. After 99 years when this family become strong, and the robber has to give the child back. Then you feel sad, not because the child was taken away by a war, just because the robber give the child back. Look at you, how hypocritical…

  14. Disgusted how people here are joking about Hong Kong losing it’s freedom whilst Hong Kong citizens are fighting each and every day to keep them…

  15. It is said that a Chinese billionaire flew to Vancouver and bought. 67 house for a few hundred thousand dollars each, in 1987, took photos, then flew back to Hong Kong and flipped all 67 in 2 weeks for a ~$30m profit, sold, sight unseen. It was at this point Vancouver real estate began to have insane overpricing, spawning the book, "generation X", by Douglas coupland, and that is the origin of the phrase … The 1997 handover …

  16. LOL talked about "last sunset of British Hong Kong" and never mentions first sunrise of Chinese Hong Kong in 99 years, good job.
    How about making a video about how "sadly" India became independent? Or Malaysia?
    Colonial mindset at its best.

  17. it’s fascinating how they were able to turn an area with just fishing villages and pirate bays with a few people into a thriving successful state.

  18. Well knowing today who knows some aircraft carriers could be sailing near soon, they might not be American

  19. #HongKong protest China is not a president anymore he made himself a dictator and will never leave office. HELP HONGKONG

  20. Alot of naivety in the comment section. The end of colonization, western racial/cultural hegemony, and the conclusive end of China's humiliation as a result of the opium war should be CELEBRATED. Alot of people want to bash China for being a communist country, but it was because it was ruled by a communist party that China was able to uplift itself, which so many countries can only dream about currently. Obviously there were many hurdles, but that's just the story of development and modernization. China's story since the 1990's is one of triumph and rise. A showcase of how China is supposed to be and what can be achieved when a collective of people push expectations. In due time, China will change again. Western people will continue to be envious, hateful of the rise of China. They will hold on to an age where China was humiliated, only to stumble and fall. The new and next generation of mainlanders and Hong Kongers will bask in a golden age, as their country makes wakes upon the Earth. This is the century of China and Asia.

  21. Singapore is the biggest beneficiaries of this change. Hong Kong will eventually end up as just one ordinary city in China. Hong Kongers should leave Hong Kong before the 2047. Freedom is lost!

  22. My ex girlfriend handed me over to my new girlfriend on June 30 2019 🙂 at 12:00 AM. She wanted to make sure my new girlfriend was perfect for me

  23. RIP Hong Kong. Never adapted to the mainland being far more richer and powerful. Even if it remained a colony of the UK the Pearl River Delta region already eclipsed it's importance.

  24. It's sad to see some self-proclaimed Chinese patriots here can't even differentiate the CCP and the country. You don't have to be loyal to the party just because you love your motherland. Wake up from the tyranny's lies. Hong Kongers despise CCP because they never care about the people of Hong Kong nor the people of China. All they want is perpetual control of your lives.

  25. I was there in 1997. As a British expatriate teenager. We left the next year. I never thought China would change the way it worked. They just had to leave it as it was. Notice how Britain has no comment on the protests now.

  26. The people that went to Canada, Australia and the USA made a good choice. At the end of the day being a citizen of those countries will allow escape from the CCP if things become overly unstable…Or too similar to the mainland. I would suggest that as many people as possible do something similar and move to a different country they wouldn't mind living in. You are way less likely to be imprisoned for disagreeing with the government and you won't have an insane "social credit" system. Even if it's not a western country i would still give that advice. It's a good idea in case of disaster to have a second home to live in even if it's just for peace of mind.

  27. All they had to do was add an extra 9 to the agreement and HK would have a much easier time (and perhaps China's growth would've been slowed too)

  28. Or subtitled “How Margaret Thatcher lost Hong Kong”. Twenty two plus years late?. Well YouTubes only been around some 15years so thats one reason for delay of location, and lets see….umm ummm. Ummmm (when will thumb twidling emoji come to be?) I do appreciate this video mentioning pertnent facts that HongKong island(s), Kowloon had been British in perpetuity, lack of mention about Chinas imperial expansion including Macao and others in same time period. TYVM. Yee Ghadds Ive just caught on! The video producer wasnt alive or perhaps was pre verbal age! Is this really only an interest because the makers job required this stop? Please not! Poor Hong Kongers! The emigration in 80s-90s were greater than mentioned, largely inspired by all we survivors of HongKongs Cultural Revolution as Mao’s subjects fled to HongKong in hundreds of thousands, the mildest of life without water, daily deadly bombs in schools, businesses and residences, mandatory identification roundups, involuntary evacuations from (well everything-workplaces, public places, schools), and yes, the island then colony at large. Maggie Thatcher remembered, as if yesterday, as did certain generations who taught the younger generations or tried to. HongKong was built by refugees from mainland China, most notably during the 1960s-70s, as well as international immigration to a lesser degree. How ironic or how trumpian, to turn back those seeking asylum to the persecution state. Imho. Support HongKong, where residents have been putting lives on the line for democratic elements of its “Basic Law”(constitution) as known since 1860s and earlier. Let your representatives in parliament/govt know

  29. It should have built its own military, no matter how rich and powerful you are you're not shit if you don't have a military. Now they will be absorbed into a country that does have one and they will do the bidding of the Chinese masters.

  30. I though this was produced 5 years ago.
    WHO ARE YOU RACING WITH?…Did you have to drop some bombs in the toilet?
    WHY ARE YOU TALKING SO FAST? To match the photos and graphics?
    These YouTube production starts have no clue how a productions is created.

  31. 11:30pm after Gay Charles deliver her disgusting farewell in behalf of her whore queen Elizabeth reptiles 2 and sing GOD DON'T SAVE THE QUEEN

  32. The day the British Empire died. Hong Kong deserves autonomy, but at least they were protected under Britain. Now they are left to battle for their democracy…

  33. if both china and britain could continue playing with my flag pole. im american so i win. and im gonna fuck your flag.

  34. It’s neat watching a Russian plane practice being shot down. That’s how they spin out of control before they crash

  35. Now look. What an absolute abysmal shame. Thoughts in support for Hong Kong and it's civil right to maintain it's own justice system until 2047

  36. HK should have been given ex-colony status and given the chance to have a referendum on self determination, precedence had been set under the UN for other colonies.

  37. The handover took place June 30, 1997 not July 30, 1997. I was there I still have a copy of the South China Morning Post for July 1,1997. It has an article in Chinese on the front page with an English translation withe headline ‘A Better Future For Us All.. it’s the address of the Chinese president during the ceremony the night before.

  38. Here's how Chinese history repeats itself.

    1. The Chinese sees himself as the master race, and all other ethnically different people are lowly barbarians.

    2. China gets too cocky and then subsequently has its ass kicked by the lowly barbarians.

    3. China bends its knees to the barbarians and elevates them to the status of the master race.

    4. The barbarian/master race becomes incorporated into the Greater China (it's a metaphysical concept, hard to explain). These "Chinese" dynasties (such as Mongol and Qing) are genetically and culturally not Chinese at all.

    5. China gets cocky again, sees itself as the master race and branding other races as lowly barbarians. (like the Manchurian Qing empire did with Westerners at first)

    6. China gets its ass kicked by barbarians. Rinse and repeat.

    This speaks a lot about the collective mentality of Chinese people. To them other races can never be allies or friends – there are only the master race to whom they will bend their knees to or lowly barbarians they either despise or/and want to exploit.

    At this moment we are at the point of Chinese again regarding itself as the master race and getting too cocky again.

    We all know what's going to happen next don't we.

  39. I understand the sentiment Hongkong people feel about the transfer. But I have to point out the fact that when Britain came to HK 150 years ago their purpose was to invade and colonize the world. In nature the interest of GB does not stand with the interest of HK. For hundreds of years Chinese living in Hongkong were secondary citizens rather than the master of this land. Due to economic boom of Hongkong in the 20th century, this inequality and inferiority were mostly hidden or weakened by improvement of livelihood and Hongkong people's superiority over mainland Chinese considering the miserable times China suffered for hundreds of years all through ROC and early PRC until the reform and opening up after 1978. Unfortunately this superiority has been dismantled more and more by the rapid rising of China into a world power. In only 40 years time Shenzheng, a former fishing village next to Hongkong has surpassed Hongkong in GDP scale. Although the GDP per capita of Shenzheng is half of HK, comparably lower housing price and living cost in Shenzheng has made Shenzheng people enjoy a more comfortable life and most importantly Shenzheng represents the trend of future technology which has given this city a better prospective into the near future.

  40. Lol Britain are responsible for causing border disputes by splitting:
    -India and Pakistan
    -China and Hong Kong
    -Israel and Palestine

  41. I think I’ll never understand why countries like China want to push ahead with taking control over Hong Kong given such a negative feedback I’m in they are already enormously powerful how much more powerful do they need to be?

  42. Tell the stupid Hong Kee brats, that China already owns 86.2% of Hong Kong land even before 1997.
    Even today, Hong Kong gets 70 to 80% of water and 23% of electricity from mainland China.

    Are these brats so stupid… apparently so !

  43. One fact to ponder – twenty plus years after the handover, Hong Kong’s GDP became the equivalent to just 2.9 percent of China’s economy (In 1997, when Britain handed the city back to Chinese sovereignty, Hong Kong’s GDP was still around 20 percent the size of the mainland economy). It is not that the size of HK's economy has reduced (it has grown two to three folds); However, the amazing story is how much China's economy has grown.

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