On July 1, 1997, the United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to China, marking the end of its 99-year lease on the colony. The transfer gave the Chinese government sovereignty over one of the most powerful international financial centers and one of the world's most famous ports. For Hong Kong's six million residents, many of whom fled Communist rule in China, the impending change has left them uncertain of their fate.
The prospect of Hong Kong, China, is first examined here from a historical perspective, concentrating on its 100 years as a British Crown Colony, and then its recovery from Japanese occupation in World War ll and subsequent development into a financial powerhouse. The primary focus is then on the period since 1979, when discussions of Hong Kong's future began in earnest between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom, and the preparations that the virtual city-state is undertaking for the changeover.