History in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong has a history that dates back to the Paleolithic Era, when the first inhabitants walked its soil. However, it was not until the Qin dynasty from 221 to 206 BC that people from Mainland China began to make their way to the island of Hong Kong. These people greatly affected the life of the indigenous people of the island, as would the coming Westerners.

In 1555 the Portuguese arrived in China and took note of Hong Kong's safe harbor. However it wasn't until the British East India Trading Company made it to China in 1699 that the use of Hong Kong for trade between the west and China began to develop. Soon many foreigners were putting into Hong Kong to conduct their trades, which soon predominantly consisted of opium. As Britain had control of India-and thus the opium market-they quickly gained control of China's foreign trade market.

As friction progressed between China and Britain the First Opium War broke out, lasting from 1839 to 1842. As a result, Hong Kong was ceded to the British at the 1841 Convention of Chuen Pi. Sir Henry Pottinger was appointed as the new territory's first governor, and he set about investing in Hong Kong's future with various building projects. But troubles were still brewing with China, who were declaring the cessation of Hong Kong invalid as the documents had never been signed. Pottinger sent his troops to Nanking and threatened attack, resulting in the 1942 Treaty of Nanking whereby Hong Kong legally became a territory of Britain. Under British occupation, Hong Kong rapidly became the distribution center of trade between China and Britain.

When the Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, Hong Kong's flourishing economy took a dive. Hundreds of thousands of people fled from Mainland China as the Japanese approached, all of them taking refuge in Hong Kong. Then on December 25, 1941, the British surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese, and the hundreds of thousands of Chinese that had littered the streets fled back to Mainland China. On August 14, 1945, the territory was returned to Britain. But it wasn't until between 1948 and 1949 that the population again soared: the Communists were defeating the Chinese Nationalists.

Britain kept hold of Hong Kong even as the Communist Party took over Mainland China. The economy and the population both flourished. Then in December 1984 an agreement was signed between Britain and China that Hong Kong would be returned to China so long its future would be preserved as it was-especially when it came to the economy and trade. The slogan of "one country, two systems" was coined, but it wasn't until July 1, 1997 that Hong Kong changed hands and the slogan could be put into action.

Since then, the democratic system on Hong Kong has survived. There are currently a great many protests being conducted by democratic supporters, and, for now, Hong Kong's agreed upon future looks secure.

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