Major events in Hong Kong's history

As the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China approaches, here is a look at Hong Kong's history

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Hong Kong skyscrapers at night.

Hong Kong skyscrapers at night. (By Wikimedia Commons)

Hong Kong - July 1 marks the 20 year anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. Here are some significant dates in the history of Hong Kong:

August 1842: Hong Kong is formally ceded to the British Empire by Imperial China after the first opium war.

July 1898: The New Territories and 235 islands are leased to Britain by Imperial China for 99 years.

October 1949: The communist government gains the upper hand in the Chinese civil war. The People's Republic of China is established.

December 1978: The start of Chinese Economic Reform. This marked the beginning of a more global China and Hong Kong's increased role as a gateway to the country.

December 1984: The Sino-British Joint-Declaration, the treaty that laid down the terms for Hong Kong’s return to China, is signed.

July 1997: After more than 150 years of British rule, Hong Kong once again becomes part of China. Shanghai-born former shipping tycoon Tung Chee-hwa becomes the city’s first chief executive.

September 2002: The Tung administration announces plans to pass Article 23, a controversial national security law that would prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the Chinese government.

March–June 2003: Hong Kong is hit hard by the SARS epidemic. More than 1,700 people are infected and 299 die. The property market crashes and economy slows, as people are afraid to go outside for fear of contracting the virulent disease.

July 2003: Some 500,000 people take to the streets to oppose Article 23, fearing that the national security law will be used to persecute those with views different to the Chinese government.

March 2005: Tung Chee-Hwa, who has become deeply unpopular, resigns as chief executive citing health reasons.

2007: Beijing announces that the people of Hong Kong will be allowed to vote for their chief executive and legislators in 2017 and 2020, respectively.

2010-2012: The Hong Kong government attempts to introduce a controversial national education curriculum. Critics say it is an attempt to brainwash Hong Kong's youth. Public pressure, including a hunger strike by students like activist Joshua Wong, forces them to shelve the initiative.

August 2014: Beijing rules out full democracy for Hong Kong, announcing that candidates must be pre-approved by a mostly pro-Beijing committee.

September–December 2014: The August decisions spark the Umbrella Revolution, a 79-day occupation of three busy Hong Kong thoroughfares by Hong Kong students and activists. The activists call for Beijing to give residents the right to nominate and vote for their leaders as promised in the joint-declaration. Police use tear gas and pepper spray to dispel protestors. Some 100,000 people take to the streets at the height of the occupation.

October–December 2015: Five booksellers from Hong Kong who sold books containing rumours about the Chinese leadership go missing and turn up in the custody of Chinese authorities.

January 2017: Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua goes missing from a luxury Hong Kong hotel, allegedly taken to the mainland by Chinese security officers to cooperate with investigations. His wife files a report with Hong Kong police, but then withdraws it saying she is in contact with her husband.

March 2017: Former chief secretary Carrie Lam becomes Hong Kong's first female chief executive. Her campaign is marred by allegations that Beijing has put pressure on the 1,200-person selection committee to vote for her.