Is Hong Kong in China? The answer to this question isn't as simple as it seems. In 1997, Hong Kong reverted back to the People's Republic of China (PRC) after 155 years as a British colony. Under British rule, Hong Kong developed a successful capitalist economic system, and became a modern international metropolis. Accordingly, Hong Kong's transfer back to socialist Chinese sovereignty was expected to be problematic.
In 1984, anticipating the problems that would be associated with Hong Kong's reunification with China, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and PRC president Deng Xiaoping, reached an agreement establishing Hong Kong as a Special Autonomous Region (SAR). This declaration, commonly known as “one country, two systems”, states that, "The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the HKSAR, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years."
To date, there is no official word as to what, exactly, will happen at the end of this 50 year period.
So, is Hong Kong in China? Well, that depends on who you ask. Most westerners will tell you, "Yes, of course Hong Kong is in China," but ask any Hongkongnese, and they will answer with a resounding, "NO!"
- People from Hong Kong consider themselves Hongkongnese, not Chinese.
- No one can travel freely between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. Everyone must pass through border immigration. No visa is required to enter Hong Kong, but all foreigners must have a visa to enter the mainland.
- Hong Kong and the mainland use different currencies. The Hong Kong currency is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). The mainland currency is the Yuan, or Renminbi (CNY). They are not interchangeable.
- The official languages of Hong Kong are English and Cantonese. The official language of the mainland is Mandarin.
- Cantonese and Mandarin use the same set of Chinese characters. However, in Hong Kong they are often written in traditional Chinese, whereas, on the mainland, by law, they are written in simplified Chinese.
- In Hong Kong they drive on the left side of the road. On the mainland they drive on the right.
- The cost of living in Hong Kong is approximately 45%-65% higher than the cost of living in the major cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen) on the mainland.