In the middle part of the 1980s the political future of the British Crown
Colony of Hong Kong was outlined in a document agreed between the People’s
Republic of China and Her Majesty’s Government that would herald the transfer of
sovereignty after a century and a half of British rule. It was hailed as a triumph of
It was decreed in this Joint Declaration that in 1997 Hong Kong would revert
to Chinese sovereignty but remain largely autonomous; the famous “One Country,
Two Systems” concept of the all-powerful Communist Party Chairman, Deng
This decision-making process that involved the government of Hong Kong on
the periphery was often referred to as the Three Legged Stool. But serious doubts
were expressed about the ability of such a stool to stand for long.
In 1987, with only a decade remaining before the world as Hong Kong people
knew it was to change, a fourth leg appeared.
Instead of ensuring stability it posed a unique danger to the lives of five and a
half million local inhabitants, and set in train a series of devastating events which
threatened to shift the path of Hong Kong history forever, challenging regional and
world security – and awakening the beast in the dragon.