In the early 1990's, as Britain's lease on Hong Kong was coming to an end, a series of meetings were held between China and the U.K. to figure out a way to transfer Hong Kong and the surrounding territories. Finally, in 1997, 99 years after the transfer to Britain, the pendulum swung in the other direction: China once more had control of Hong Kong.
The handover of these valuable territories was cause for a serious ceremony. With both of the anthems played and a busload of flag raising and lowering, there was hardly any time for Prince Charles of Britain to make a speech. Britain, in his words, "has been proud and privileged to have had responsibility for the people of Hong Kong..." After all the pomp and glory, a rather sad governor Chris Pattern was escorted out of the Governorís House and to the Royal Yacht.
Elsewhere in Hong Kong, celebrations were being held by the civilians. They were excited more for the fact that they saw a historic event than the transfer of power.
It was not long before the implications of Chinese law became apparent - in the form of restrictions about the independence of Taiwan and Tibet. It was also named a 'special administrative district', a status which makes it exempt to some Chinese regulations and allows it to make more profit from trading than the rest of China. Although communism is the rule (both literally and figuratively), there is a very strong democratic movement, which shows itself in peaceful pro-democracy protests. Despite all the possible setbacks, it is likely that Hong Kong will be an important player in China's future.
Despite the fact that China is almost exclusively communist, Hong Kong has managed to keep its capitalist economy going, partly because of its special designation. Part of the 'special administrative region' title is the benefits of very low taxes and a no-interference policy with the government. Hong Kong is well known as a center for textiles and manufacturing. It is one of the two major centers of trade and economic boom in China (with the other being Shanghai). More recently, the tourism industry has brought even more wealth into the region, following the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland.
British rule has definitely left a noticeable difference on Hong Kong. The western influence caused it to have very modern architecture. It has one of the world's most modern and recognizeable skylines. Many of the skyscrapers on and around the island are some of the world's tallest. Most recognizable are the Bank of China Tower and the Two International Finance Center, which is the tallest building in Hong Kong.