Occupied by the UK in 1841, Hong Kong was formally ceded by China the following year; various adjacent lands were added later in the 19th century. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and the UK on December 19, 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China on July 1, 1997. In this agreement, China promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system would not be imposed on Hong Kong and that Hong Kong would enjoy a "high degree of autonomy" in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the subsequent 50 years.
- Central Intelligence Agency, World Factboook
1787 enthusiastically supports Hong Kong's autonomy under the one country, two systems formula, and hopes President Xi realizes that Hong Kong serves as a very important bridge for him between China and the global market - which makes the relationship very valuable to China.
Because of this dynamic, it is in China's best interest that Hong Kong be vibrant and prosperous. Images coming out of Hong Kong, like the ones since March 2019 showing hundreds of thousands of protesters hitting the streets, is not a good look for China. There have been protests before - in 2003, protesters fought against changes to Hong Kong's national security law and, in 2014, the Umbrella Movement all but shut the city down for almost 80 days while protesters fought against the Chinese vetting of Hong Kong's leader - but neither came close to the most recent, when protesters opposed a proposed law that would allow extradition to mainland China (meaning people in Hong Kong suspected of criminal activity could be sent from Hong Kong to mainland China for their fate to be determined). The protesters believe that the law would be nothing more than a tool to enable political persecution and, since judges in China exclusively serve the Communist Party, it most certainly would be. In the end, Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, apologized and suspended - but did not withdraw - the bill.
It is extremely important that China honor the agreement they signed with the UK on December 19, 1984, and the United States must be unequivocal in our support of both the letter and spirit of the deal.