Hong Kong celebrates 25th anniversary of handover from Britain to China
On July 1, 1997, Britain formally returned the city-state of Hong Kong to China, ending 156 years of British colonial rule. In a joint agreement, Beijing agreed to 50 years of semi-autonomy for Hong Kong. This includes the preservation and expansion of democracy under the motto "one country, two systems."
Now, 25 years later, Hong Kong is celebrating this anniversary with a ceremony attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping. This was his first trip outside Mainland China since beginning of the COVID pandemic. In his address, Xi Jinping praised Hong Kong's development to date and highlighted its position as an international financial centre. The city has and will continue to play an important role in China's further development.
A few days before the celebrations, British and American representatives criticized Beijing of not sufficiently respecting the Sino-British Joint Declaration and influencing political matters in Hong Kong. Xi Jinping countered these critics in his speech by saying that China has always acted in the best interests of Hong Kong and has no intention of restricting autonomy. In addition, he hinted that China might continue the current system even after the 50 years have passed. He said, „For this kind of good system, there is no reason to change it, it must be upheld for the long term.” The government’s main focus is on stability. Because stability is the only way how prosperity can be created.
In the course of this year's celebrations, Hong Kong's new Chief Executive John Lee was sworn in for his 5-year term. He takes over from Carrie Lam and was the city's former Secretary for Security. He emphasized his intention to create a new chapter and to protect democratic rights of the residents. Beijing expressed its full support. His mission will also be to strengthen Hong Kong's international position as financial hub. In this context, Lee stressed the importance of foreign capital.
Even though Hong Kong's international reputation has suffered somewhat in the last 2 years due to the newly imposed national security law and strict COVID measures, the outlook is positive. The common law system, independent courts, free flow of capital and trade, a simple and low tax system and an efficient government continue to make Hong Kong the ideal gateway to the Chinese market. Whether it’s to import Western products into Mainland China or to source products. This was also just confirmed by an "International Institute for Management Development" (IMD) report published in June 2022. It ranks Hong Kong as the 5th most competitive city in the world.
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