In August 1842, the Qing dynasty of China signed the Treaty of Nanjing, which ceded Hong Kong to the British, formally ending the violent years of the Opium War. British power was later solidified in the city after the signing of the Second Convention of Peking, which consolidated British rule over Hong Kong for the following 99 years. As those 99 years were drawing to an end, British governor of Hong Kong Murray MacLehose questioned the future of the city with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping during MacLehose’s first official visit to China. Though MacLehose suggested that the British continue to manage Hong Kong, but Deng advocated to regain full sovereignty of the territory, and at the end of 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed. This Declaration returned Hong Kong to Chinese control and established the city’s unique governance under the “one country, two systems” constitutional principle. Hong Kong’s previous capitalist system and its way of life would remain unchanged for a period of 50 years until 2047.
Today, HKSAR Establishment Day is celebrated as an official holiday in Hong Kong. The day begins with a flag raising ceremony in Golden Bauhinia Square that is attended by government officials and dignitaries. The flag of the HKSAR features a red field with a white, five-petal, Bauhinia flower in the center designed by Hong Kong architect Tao Ho, who was inspired after picking up a Bauhinia flower while walking in a garden. This year over 300 various celebrations were held throughout the city highlighting this momentous occasion the Greater Bay Festival and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Garrison’s open day.