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What Country is Hong Kong in?

China or Not?


The Hong Kong flag waves in the wind.
Kick Images/Photodisc/Getty Images

The world’s original international city, many people ask what country is Hong Kong in? The answer isn’t as simple as it may seem; with its own money, passports and legal system Hong Kong isn’t quite Chinese, but with Chinese flags flying from its buildings and Beijing appointing its chief executive it isn’t quite independent. We unravel exactly what country Hong Kong is in.

Until 1997, and the Hong Kong handover, Hong Kong was a colony of the United Kingdom, ruled by a governor. Today, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is a part of China, although this comes with a biblical size of caveats.

Hong Kong’s Basic Law, as agreed between China and Britain, means Hong Kong will retain its own currency (the Hong Kong dollar), legal system, and parliamentary system for fifty years. This means, for all practical purposes, Hong Kong is actually a separate country to China.

Visitors to Hong Kong, who usually receive visa free access, will have to apply for a visa to visit China. Chinese nationals also require permits to visit Hong Kong. Hong Kong and China maintain a border. China maintains a sort of quasi embassy in Hong Kong via the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs.

The Chinese Reminibi is not accepted in Hong Kong, expect in a handful of stores. The Hong Kong dollar is not legal tender in China.

Hong Kong has a wholly separate legal system to China.

Hong Kongers have their own separate passports, the HKSAR passport.

The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese (Cantonese) and English, not Mandarin.

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