When this inquiry was commenced, in 1982, there was concern about the future of Hong Kong as a political unit. It was suggested at an early stage that analysis of historical events and current trends could provide some illumination on the course of future relationships between Hong Kong and China. It was noted, for example, that a number of actions taken by the Hong Kong Government indicated ‘a tacit admission of China’s overriding interest in Hong Kong’ and suggested eventual tacit acceptance of ultimate Chinese sovereignty (Donnithorne, 1980, p. 624). By implication, this viewpoint could have been extended to apply also to the British government. However, in her discussions with the Chinese authorities in Beijing in September, 1982, the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, based her arguments on the legality in international law of the treaties, including those which granted Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, in perpetuity, to Britain.
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