Early Beginnings of British Community (1841–1898)

  • Gillian Bickley


According to British chroniclers and historians, it was news of the preliminaries of a Sino-British treaty that led to the originally unofficial British settlement of Hong Kong Island, which took place in 1841; and subsequently, in 1843, the island was declared a British colony. Seventeen years later, by the Beijing Convention (1860), the territory administered by Britain was expanded, when Kowloon Peninsula (with Stonecutters Island) was also ceded to Britain on the same terms. But a further and final expansion, in 1898, when the New Territories and numerous islands were added, was for a limited period only. This final addition of territory was for a period of ninety-nine years: the New Territories were leased by Britain from China, beginning on July 1, 1898. Paradoxically, it was this lease—designed, by providing a buffer of territory, to preserve the British administration in the face of threat from expansionist European Powers in the region—which ultimately led to the close of British administration at midnight, June 30, 1997, when Britain ceremonially handed Hong Kong back to the government in mainland China.


Chinese Mainland Early Beginning Armed Service British Citizen British Community 
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Both this chapter and the following one have been assisted, as all of the author’s work in this area, by her husband, Verner Bickley, whose ready memory and useful suggestions have helped to make the best use of their joint resources of energy, information, and time.

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© Cindy Yik-yi Chu 2005

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  • Gillian Bickley

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