Where is Hong Kong? Location on map, population, flag, handover to China and what Boris Johnson said explained

This year, the city will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the British handover

Every 1 July, Hong Kong marks the day where it was returned from British to Chinese control.

But where is Hong Kong located, what is the city’s connection to Britain and when was it returned?

This year, the city will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the British handover (Photo: Louise Delmotte/Getty Images)

Here’s what you need to know.

Where is Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and is located to the east of the Pearl River (Zhu Jiang) estuary on the south coast of China.

The region is bordered by Guangdong province to the north and the South China Sea to the east, south and west.

What is its population?

The current population of Hong Kong is around 7.6 million people.

What is the flag of Hong Kong?

Hong Kong’s flag is red with a white flower. It was designed to be a symbol of unity, with its circular arrangement of white flower petals set against a red background representing the rights and freedoms enjoyed under the "one country, two systems" principle.

Hong Kong’s flag has only been officially in use since 1997, when it was adopted as the British handed the territory back to China. A corresponding flower emblem also replaced Queen Elizabeth’s head on coins and the colonial coat-of-arms on passports and official documents.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and is located to the east of the Pearl River (Zhu Jiang) estuary on the south coast of China (Graphic: Kim Mogg/National World)

When was the handover?

This year, the city will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the British handover on 1 July 2022.

Britain first took over Hong Kong island in 1842 after defeating China in the First Opium War.

After the Second Opium War, Beijing was forced to also hand over Kowloon in 1860, the area on the mainland opposite the island.

In 1898, in order to enforce its control of the area, Britain leased additional land, known as the New Territories, promising to return them to China in 99 years.

Hong Kong developed rapidly under UK rule and became one of the world’s major financial and business centres.

Hong Kong had also developed a different political and economic system from mainland China, which since 1949 had been under authoritarian one-party Communist rule.

When Hong Kong was handed back in 1997, China agreed to govern Hong Kong under the principle of "one country, two systems", where the city would enjoy "a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs" for the next 50 years.

Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region, and was to retain certain freedoms.

These included an independent judiciary, multiple political parties, and freedom of assembly and speech.

However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently said that China had failed to comply with its commitment to respect a "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement.

Britain has been critical of a national security law imposed in 2020, as well as electoral changes that it says erode the freedoms and autonomy of Hong Kong.

In a video post, Mr Johnson said: "On the 25th anniversary of the handover, we simply cannot avoid the fact that, for some time now, Beijing has been failing to comply with its obligations.”

"It’s a state of affairs that threatens both the rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers and the continued progress and prosperity of their home,” he added.

After 2047, mainland China is no longer obliged to grant Hong Kong the autonomy agreed on with Britain before the 1997 handover. This has left the future of the city unclear.