Convention between the United Kingdom and China, Respecting an Extension of Hong Kong Territory
|Convention between the United Kingdom and China, Respecting an Extension of Hong Kong Territory|
The Convention between the United Kingdom and China, Respecting an Extension of Hong Kong Territory, commonly known as the Second Convention of Peking, was a lease signed between Qing China and the United Kingdom in 1898.
In the wake of China's defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), the British took advantage of the other European powers' scramble to carve up the country and forced the treaty on the weakened Chinese government.
The convention was signed on 9 June, 1898 in Beijing (Peking). The contract was signed to give the British full jurisdiction of the newly acquired land that was necessary to ensure proper military defence of the colony around the island. Some of the earliest proposals for the land's usage in 1894 included cemetery space, an exercise ground for British troops as well as land for development. From the British perspective concerns over security and territorial defense provided the major impetus for the agreement.
Under the convention the territories north of what is now Boundary Street and south of the Sham Chun River, and the surrounding islands, later known as the "New Territories" were leased to the United Kingdom for 99 years rent-free, expiring on 30 June 1997, and became part of the crown colony of Hong Kong. Claude MacDonald, the British representative during the convention, picked a 99-year lease because he thought it was "as good as forever."
Some of the land under the convention remains rural and it is home to virtually all of Hong Kong's remaining farmland. However, as the city districts have become increasingly crowded the government has developed urban areas since the 1950s. Particularly, the areas closest to Kowloon have become integrated in Kowloon districts and are no longer administratively included in the New Territories. Due to continuing population growth and crowding in the inner city, the New Territories satellite cities grew increasingly important to the point where a slight majority of the population now lives there.
This made it unfeasible to return the leased land alone as it would have split Hong Kong in two parts. The Chinese also started to pressure the British to return all of Hong Kong, taking the position that they would not accept so-called "unequal treaties" that were imposed on them by colonial powers.
The governments of the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China (PRC) concluded the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984, under which the sovereignty of the leased territories, together with Hong Kong Island and Kowloon (south of Boundary Street) ceded under the Treaty of Nanking (1842) and Convention of Peking (1860), was scheduled to be transferred to the PRC on 1 July 1997. The territory was then transferred as scheduled.
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