When Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, there was no shortage of doomsayers who forecast that the former British colony would be stifled by rule from the mainland and that it would be reduced to ‘just another Chinese city.’
Fifteen years on, that has not happened. Nor, to be realistic, did it ever really seem to be on the cards.
Editing the South China Morning Post at the time of the handover it always seemed to me that July 1, 1997, marked the start of a long process which would be played out through multiple small developments rather than the dramatic clash some foresaw.
The democratic reforms introduced by Chris Pattern in the twilight of British rule were immediately done away with, of course.
Under the Joint Declaration that laid the groundwork for the handover, Beijing had signed up for the pre-Patten system of administrative rule and, however popular the Last Governor may have been, there was no way that the new sovereign to the north was going to alter the powers it had received under the deal known as the Joint Declaration it signed with London in 1984.Page 1 of 6 | Next Page