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HONG KONG: SPECIAL REPORT

Colonial Chronology

June 15, 1997

"A barren rock with hardly a house upon it. . .that will never be a mart of trade."-Lord Palmerston, 19th century British statesman, on Hong Kong Island, ceded by China in 1842.

1800

Early 19th century: British sailors arrive to find fishing and farming clans, pirates and explorers.

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1839-42: China's attempt to stop illegal British trading in opium triggers the first Opium War. China is defeated and cedes Hong Kong Island to Britain under the Treaty of Nanjing.

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1859-60: After an allegedly illegal search of a British ship by the Chinese, the second Opium War breaks out, ending in the Beijing Convention, under which Britain acquires the Kowloon peninsula.

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July, 1898: Britain negotiates a 99-year lease for the area between Kowloon and China, known as the New Territories, and many islands.

1900

1941-45: The Japanese army captures Hong Kong, interning British civilians and deporting Chinese. In 1945, Hong Kong returns to Britain, instead of gaining independence or reverting to China.

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October, 1949: Mao-Tse-tung proclaims the founding of the People's Republic of China. Mass exodus to Hong Kong.

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June, 1951: The anti-Communist lobby in the United States spurs a United Nations embargo against China. Hong Kong, forced into economic independence, begins an industrial revolution.

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Summer, 1967: China's Cultural Revolution spills into Hong Kong, and 51 people die in clashes between police and Red Guards. Britain passes draconian laws to maintain public order.

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December, 1984: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese "paramount leader" Deng Xiaoping sign the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which seals the returnof Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997. China promises the territory 50 years of "autonomy" under its "one country, two systems" policy.

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June, 1989: Hundreds die when the Chinese army crushes a pro-democracy demonstration in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square. In Hong Kong, 1 million people take to the streets to protest.

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September 1995: Hong Kong residents vote in the colony's first democratic elections. Beijing has declared that it will dissolve the elected legislature after the hand-over.

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December, 1996: Shipping tycoon Tung Chee-hwa is chosen by a Beijing-appointed panel to be Hong Kong's first chief executive after Gov. Chris Patten leaves June 30, 1997.

1997

January, 1997: The Beijing appointed "shadow" legislature proposes eliminating or changing 25 Hong Kong laws, including a bill of rights, election laws and rules that protect political parties and peaceful demonstrations.

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April, 1997: An advance unit of China's People's Liberation Army crosses the border into Hong Kong to lay the groundwork for the stationing of 10,000 Chinese troops at Prince of Wales Barracks.

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July 1, 1997: Hong Kong reverts to Chinese rule.

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"The racehorses will still run. The dancing will continue."-Deng Xiaoping, Beijing's late "paramount leader," on Hong Kong after its return to China.

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