Note: Hong Kong
Hong Kong Special Administrative
Area: 1,100 sq.
km.; Hong Kong comprises Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories, and numerous
Terrain: Hilly to mountainous, with steep slopes and natural
Climate: Tropical monsoon. Cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy
from spring through summer, warm and sunny in fall.
(2004): 6.9 million.
Population growth rate (2004): 1.0%.
Chinese 95%; other 5%.
Religions: About 43% participate in some form of religious
practice. Christian, about 9.6%.
Languages: Cantonese (a dialect of Chinese)
and English are official.
Education: Literacy--92% (95% male, 88% female).
(2004): Infant mortality rate--2.7/1,000. Life expectancy--81.9
yrs. (overall); 79.0 yrs. males, 84.7 yrs. females.
Work force (2004): 3.5
million. Wholesale, retail, and import/export trades and restaurants and hotels--28.4%;
finance, insurance, real estate, and business services--12.7%; manufacturing--4.7%.
Type: Special Administrative
Region (SAR) of China, with its own constitution (the Basic Law).
Executive--Administration -- Next Chief Executive Selection in March
2007), Executive Council, serving in an advisory role for the Chief Executive.
Legislative--Legislative Council elected in September 2004. Judicial--Court
of Final Appeal is highest court, other lower courts.
Subdivisions: Hong Kong,
Kowloon, New Territories.
Suffrage: Permanent residents, at 18 years or over,
living in Hong Kong for the past 7 years are eligible to vote.
GDP (2004): $165.5 billion.
GDP real growth rate (2004): 8.2%.
capita GDP (2004): $24,045.
Natural resources: Outstanding deepwater harbor.
Types--textiles, clothing, electronics, plastics, toys, watches, clocks.
Exports--$259 billion: clothing, electronics, textiles, watches and clocks,
office machinery. Imports--$271 billion: consumer goods, raw materials
and semi-manufactures, capital goods, foodstuffs, fuels.
Kong's population has increased steadily over the past decade, reaching about
6.9 million by 2004. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the
world, with an overall density of some 6,380 people per square kilometer. Cantonese,
the official Chinese language in Hong Kong, is spoken by most of the population.
English, also an official language, is widely understood. It is spoken by more
than one-third of the population. Every major religion is practiced freely in
Hong Kong. All children are required by law to be in full-time education between
the ages of 6 and 15. Preschool education for most children begins at age 3. Primary
school begins normally at the age of 6 and lasts for 6 years. At about age 12,
children progress to a 3-year course of junior secondary education. Most stay
on for a 2-year senior secondary course, while others join full-time vocational
training. More than 90% of children complete upper secondary education or equivalent
to archaeological studies initiated in the 1920s, human activity on Hong Kong
dates back over five millennia. Excavated neolithic artifacts suggest an influence
from northern Chinese stone-age cultures. The territory was settled by Han Chinese
during the seventh century, A.D., evidenced by the discovery of an ancient tomb
at Lei Cheung Uk in Kowloon. The first major migration from northern China to
Hong Kong occurred during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279). The British East India
Company made the first successful sea venture to China in 1699, and Hong Kong's
trade with British merchants developed rapidly soon after. After the Chinese defeat
in the First Opium War (1839-42), Hong Kong was ceded to Britain in 1842 under
the Treaty of Nanking. Britain was granted a perpetual lease on the Kowloon Peninsula
under the 1860 Convention of Beijing, which formally ended hostilities in the
Second Opium War (1856-58). The United Kingdom, concerned that Hong Kong could
not be defended unless surrounding areas also were under British control, executed
a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898, significantly expanding the size
of the Hong Kong colony.
In the late
19th century and early 20th centuries, Hong Kong developed as a warehousing and
distribution center for U.K. trade with southern China. After the end of World
War II and the communist takeover of Mainland China in 1949, hundreds of thousands
of people fled from China to Hong Kong. Hong Kong became an economic success and
a manufacturing, commercial, finance, and tourism center. High life expectancy,
literacy, per capita income, and other socioeconomic measures attest to Hong Kong's
achievements over the last five decades.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is headed by Chief Executive Donald
Tsang, who officially took office on June 21, 2005 after China’s State Council
announced its approval. Former Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa tendered his resignation
on March 12, 2005, citing ill health. Mr. Tung has since been confirmed as a vice-chairman
of the National People’s Political Consultative Conference. The selection process
for a new Chief Executive concluded on June 15, 2005 when Tsang garnered 710 of
the 800 nomination votes from the Election Committee, preventing any other candidate
from garnering the minimum 100 votes needed to become an official candidate. Although
pro-democratic groups argued for a full five-year term for the new Chief Executive,
as outlined in the Basic Law, Mr. Tsang will simply complete the remaining two
years in Mr. Tung’s term. Mr. Tung was the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong
and began his second five-year term on July 1, 2002, after his nomination by a
selection committee established by the Basic Law. The selection committee is made
up of 800 Hong Kong residents from four constituency groups: commercial, industrial,
and financial interests; professionals; labor, social services, and religious
interests; and the legislature, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference,
and the P.R.C. National People's Congress.
2004 Legislative Council elections were seen as generally free, open, and widely
contested, though there were allegations of voter intimidation. The Hong Kong
Government and the Legislative Council are currently engaged in a public consultation
process intended to lead to changes in the mechanism for choosing the Chief Executive
and forming the Legislative Council and move toward the "ultimate aim" of universal
suffrage as prescribed by the Basic Law. In April 2004, the P.R.C. National People's
Congress Standing Committee issued a decision on the scope and pace of constitutional
reform, which laid out certain conditions for the process of democratic development.
This decision precluded major changes to the electoral systems for the 2007 Chief
Executive and 2008 Legislative Council elections. In December 2005 the Legislative
Council rejected a Hong Kong Government-proposed package of incremental reforms
to the mechanisms for choosing the Chief Executive in 2007 and forming the Legislative
Council in 2008. The Hong Kong Government also implemented the Principal Officials
Accountability System in July 2002, which was designed to make the government
more responsive to public concerns. Eleven political appointees, directly responsible
to the Chief Executive, to run the 11 policy bureaus were added. Three other senior
civil service positions--the Chief Secretary, Financial Secretary, and Justice
Secretary--also were converted to political appointments, although without a change
Chief Executive--Donald Tsang
Chief Secretary--Rafael Hui
Secretary for Justice--Wong Yan-long
Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology--Joseph
Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands--Michael Suen
Education and Manpower--Arthur Li
Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food--Dr.
Secretary for the Civil Service--Denise Yue
Secretary for Home
Secretary for Economic Development and Labor--Stephen Ip
for the Environment, Transport and Works--Sarah Liao
Secretary for Financial
Services and the Treasury--Frederick Ma
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs--Stephen
On July 1, 1997, China resumed the exercise of sovereignty
over Hong Kong, ending more than 150 years of British colonial rule. Hong Kong
is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China with a high
degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs. According
to the Sino-British Joint Declaration (1984) and the Basic Law, Hong Kong will
retain its political, economic, and judicial systems and unique way of life for
50 years after reversion and will continue to participate in international agreements
and organizations under the name, "Hong Kong, China." In the past year and a half,
China has taken on a more active role in overseeing the Hong Kong Government's
management of political developments in the Special Administrative Region. While
Hong Kong remains a free and open society where human rights are respected, courts
are independent, and there is well-established respect for the rule of law, Hong
Kong groups have alleged manipulation or pressure in connection with the September
12, 2004 Legislative Council election. The Hong Kong Government has promised to
investigate thoroughly all such allegations. On June 21, 2005, Chief Executive
Donald Tsang was sworn in to complete the remaining two years of former Chief
Executive Tung Chee Hwa’s term. Tsang won 710 of the 800 nomination votes from
the Election Committee. As a result, no other candidate was able to garner the
minimum 100 votes needed to become eligible to run for Chief Executive.
Kong is one of the world's most open and dynamic economies. Hong Kong per capita
GDP is comparable to other developed countries. Real GDP expanded by 8.2% in 2004
year-on-year, driven by thriving exports, vibrant inbound tourism and strong pick
up of consumer spending. While severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused
the Hong Kong economy to shrink during the first half of 2003, second quarter
real GDP expanded by 3.2% year-on-year. Hong Kong experienced deflation from November
1998 until July 2004, when inflation reappeared at a 0.9% rate, measured year-on-year.
A slack property market has also contributed significantly to deflation. By mid-2003,
property prices had fallen 66% from their late 1997 peak, but have since rebounded
by about 58% from that lower base. The Hong Kong Government has generally resisted
pressure for large-scale public expenditures to stimulate the economy due to growing
public policy concerns with the government budget deficit. The surplus for fiscal
year 2004-05 was $2.7 billion or 1.7% of GDP, attributed to the sales of government
bonds and notes.
Hong Kong enjoys a
number of economic strengths, including accumulated public and private wealth
from decades of unprecedented growth, a sound banking system, virtually no public
debt, a strong legal system, and an able and rigorously enforced anti-corruption
regime. The need for economic restructuring poses difficult challenges and choices
for the government. Hong Kong is endeavoring to improve its attractiveness as
a commercial and trading center, especially after China's entry into the WTO,
and continues to refine its financial architecture. The government is deepening
its economic interaction with the Pearl River Delta in an effort to maintain Hong
Kong's position as a gateway to China. These efforts include the conclusion of
a free trade agreement with China, the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement
(CEPA), which applies zero tariffs to all Hong Kong-origin goods and preferential
treatment in 27 service sectors. Hong Kong, along with the Macau SAR, is also
participating in a new pan-Pearl River Delta trade block with nine Chinese provinces,
which aims to lower trade barriers among members, standardize regulations, and
improve infrastructure. U.S. companies have a generally favorable view of Hong
Kong's business environment, including its legal system and the free flow of information,
low taxation, and infrastructure. The American Chamber of Commerce's annual business
confidence survey, released in December 2005, showed 98% of respondents had a
"good" or "satisfactory" outlook for 2006. Survey results indicated a positive
economic outlook through 2008.
On the international
front, Hong Kong is a separate and active member of the World Trade Organization
(WTO) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, where it is an articulate
and effective champion of free markets and the reduction of trade barriers. Hong
Kong residents across the political spectrum supported China's accession to the
WTO, believing this would open new opportunities on the Mainland for local firms
and stabilize relations between Hong Kong's two most important trade and investment
partners, the United States and China.
Hong Kong's foreign relations and defense are the responsibility
of China. Hong Kong is an independent customs territory and economic entity separate
from the rest of China and is able to enter into international agreements on its
own behalf in commercial and economic matters. Hong Kong, independently of China,
participates as a full member of numerous international economic organizations
including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
forum (APEC), and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
U.S. policy toward Hong Kong, grounded in a determination
to promote Hong Kong's prosperity, autonomy, and way of life, is stated in the
U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992. The United States maintains substantial economic
and political interests in Hong Kong. The United States supports Hong Kong's autonomy
by concluding and implementing bilateral agreements; promoting trade and investment;
arranging high-level visits; broadening law enforcement cooperation; bolstering
educational, academic, and cultural links; and supporting the large community
of U.S. citizens and visitors.
is an active member of the global coalition against terrorism. Hong Kong has joined
the Container Security Initiative and remains an important partner with regard
to eliminating funding for terrorist networks and combating money laundering.
Hong Kong has passed legislation designed to bring Hong Kong into compliance with
applicable UN anti-terror resolutions and Financial Action Task Force recommendations.
The United States has substantial economic
and social ties with Hong Kong. There are some 1,100 U.S. firms, including 868
regional operations (262 regional headquarters and 606 regional offices), and
about 54,000 American residents in Hong Kong. According to U.S. Government statistics,
U.S. exports to Hong Kong totaled $15.8 billion in 2004. U.S. direct investment
in Hong Kong at the end of 2004 totaled about $43.7 billion, making the United
States one of Hong Kong's largest investors, along with China, Japan, and the
The United States and Hong
Kong signed a new civil aviation agreement in October 2002, which significantly
liberalized the aviation market. Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy as
a separate customs territory, with no changes to borders, staffing, or technology
export controls since the 1997 handover. Intellectual property rights (IPR) protection
has improved substantially in recent years and the introduction of effective new
legislation to control illicit production and improved enforcement has now made
Hong Kong a regional model for effective IPR protection. The Office of the U.S.
Trade Representative and other U.S. agencies now regularly cite Hong Kong as an
example for others.
The Hong Kong Government
maintains three Economic and Trade
Offices in the United States. Addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites
for these offices are listed below:
- 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 331-8947
Web Site: http://www.hketowashington.gov.hk/dc/index.htm
East 54th Street
New York, NY 10022
Tel: (212) 752-3320
Fax: (212) 752-3395
San Francisco, CA 94104
Tel: (415) 835-9300
Web Site: http://www.hketosf.gov.hk/sf/index.htm
Consul General--James B. Cunningham
Principal Officer--Marlene Sakaue
U.S. Consulate General is located
at 26 Garden Road, Hong Kong. Tel: (852) 2523-9011 (general). Fax: (852) 2845-1598
(general); (852) 2147-5790 (consular); (852) 2845-9800 (commercial).
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
Department of State's Consular Information Program provides Consular Information
Sheets, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements. Consular Information Sheets
exist for all countries and include information on entry requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to
a certain country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions
overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Free
copies of this information are available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs
at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Consular Information
Sheets and Travel Warnings also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet
home page: http://travel.state.gov/. Consular
Affairs Tips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining
passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are available on the Internet and hard
copies can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office
of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies,
Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's
single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone:
1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators
for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time,
excluding federal holidays.
can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and
a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm
give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280)
is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel.
Information on travel
conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays,
and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure
from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see
"Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged
their travel via the State Department's travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/
or at the Consular section of the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country by filling
out a short form and sending in a copy of their passports. This may help family
members contact you in case of an emergency.
Department of State Web Site. Available on
the Internet at http://www.state.gov/, the Department
of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information, including Background Notes and
daily press briefings
along with the directory of key officers
of Foreign Service posts and more.
provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered
by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help
with the export process, and more.
a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic,
business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The
site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market
research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the
National Trade Data Bank.