Hong Kong Overview
Hong Kong is now the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of China, but with its own flag and currency. It is allowed to keep its own social and economic systems for 50 years after the handover, but China is in charge of its foreign affairs and defense.
You should visit also to see what changes have been made by the Chinese, and the effects of September 11. In 2002, like much of Asia, it has been having economic problems.
Judges may still wear their powered British wigs and Christmas is an official holiday. But is Falun Gong outlawed here too? Is there self-censorship of newspapers? Read the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post before you go. On the web, it is at www.scmp.com
And don’t worry. English is still an official language; street signs are in both languages. Rugby and cricket are still played. It is the easiest place in China for foreign tourists to visit on your own. There’s a lot to see and do, much of it cheaply. Hong Kong, which means Fragrant Harbor, was a remote, unpopulated part of China to which the last emperor of the Song dynasty escaped temporarily he was then only ten in the 13th century.
In the 19th century, the British needed China’s trade to pay for its passion for tea and silk; the Chinese wanted only gold in exchange. Britain forced the Chinese to take opium. The Chinese fought back and lost. In 1841, Britain got a “barren island with hardly a house upon it,” today’s Hong Kong Island.
This center of British trade flourished, and with subsequent wars the British acquired the Kowloon peninsula up to Boundary Street in 1860 and then leased the much larger New Territories and islands in 1898 a lease that expired in 1997 with all of Hong Kong reverting to Chinese rule.
The Japanese occupied Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945. In 1945 it had about 600,000 inhabitants. It has been growing ever since, first with refugees from China’s communism, and since 1997 with 150 legal Chinese immigrants a day eager for bright light and better-paying jobs. Today its population is 6.8 million. Tung Chee-hwa is Chief Executive, and 98% of its people from 20 to 29 years of age own a mobile telephone.
The development continues. Disneyland is due in 2005 and bridges are being built to the site. In 2006, Hono Kong is hoping to host the Asian Games. Hong Kong is also building a cable car system between the airport and Po Lin Monastery, and more roads and mass transit. In the works is a market, similar to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, in Aberdeen and the redevelopment of west Kowloon.
When you’re thinking of a visit, first contact the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). Its website is great for up-to-date information like special hotel bargains, and the latest visa requirements. You can make reservations for hotels. It will send you a lot of helpful information. See Practical information below.
Business people especially should check the date of their visit to avoid a holiday. From the American Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong, at www.amcham.org.hk/hongkong/public_holidays.html, in 2002, holidays are January first, the Lunar New Year Feb. 12-14, Good Friday March 29, the day following Good Friday March 30, Easter Monday April 1, Ching Ming April 5, Labour Day May 1Buddhas’s Birthday, May20,Tuen Ng Festivaliune 15, SAR Establishment Day July 1,the day after the mid-autumn festival September 21, National Day October l, Chung Yeung Festival October 14, Christmas December 25, and the first weekday after Christmas December 26.
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