On this day in history : 29th August 1842 – The signing of the Treaty of Nanking by Britain and China, ending the first of the Opium Wars…. It also sets the foundations for Britain’s leasing of Hong Kong….

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Signing of the Treaty of Nanking on board HMS Cornwallis – by Captain John Platt, Bengal Volunteers – Engraved by John Burnet – Public domain

The first Opium War lasted from 1839 to 1842; Britain invaded the Chinese mainland and occupied the island of Hong Kong in 1841 and then used it as a military base…. When Britain finally won the war Hong Kong was ceded to the British in the Treaty and so became part of the Empire….

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British bombardment of Canton from the surrounding heights, May 1841 – Edward H. Cree – Public domain

A second Opium War resulted in Britain acquiring further territory – the southern part of the Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutters Island…. In June 1898 a deal was struck between the Chinese and British agreeing that Britain would lease Hong Kong and the surrounding territories for 99 years….

It was during the 1970s that Britain and China began to consider Hong Kong’s future colonial status – and by the beginning of the 1980s negotiations to return it to China were underway…. After two years of tough bargaining a joint declaration was signed – agreeing that Britain would withdraw from Hong Kong on the 1st of July 1997….

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City view of Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and the Hong Kong skyline – Ryan Cheng CC BY-SA 2.0

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