China`s attitude was in stark contradiction to the UK`s expectation of an “agreement,” according to the memoirs of Sir Sze-Yuen Chung, who was in contact with senior officials of China`s negotiating teams and the King`s Kingdom. Nevertheless, at China`s request, the document was finalized in the form of a “declaration.” On 19 December 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and Chinese leaders signed a formal pact authorizing the colony`s turnover in 1997, in exchange for formulating a Chinese Communist government policy with a “one country, two systems”. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called the agreement “a milestone in the life of the territory, in anglo-Chinese relations and in the history of international diplomacy.” Hu Yaobang, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, called the signing “a day of red letters, an occasion of great joy” for one billion people in China. As a co-signer, this should enable the British government to enforce its obligation to respect the treaty under international law. Beijing officials rejected the line and suggested that the agreement was “not of practical importance” to the city government. The transfer of Hong Kong`s sovereignty (designated by the Chinese and British press respectively as “return” and “transfer”) took place as planned on 1 July 1997. Since the return, only certain things have changed, such as the Hong Kong flag and the Prince of Wales Building, renamed the People`s Liberation Army Building. The mailboxes were painted green, as is customary in China. Street names have remained unchanged and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club has retained its “Royal” prefix, although the Hong Kong Jockey Club and other institutions have abandoned the title.  The joint declaration between Salina and the British consists of eight paragraphs, three annexes on basic policies for Hong Kong, the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group and the Land Leases, as well as the two memorandums of both parties.
Each party has the same status and “the whole forms a formal international agreement, legally binding in all its elements. Such an international agreement is the highest form of engagement between two sovereign states.  As part of these declarations, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is under the control of the central government of the People`s Republic of China and enjoys a high degree of autonomy, with the exception of foreign affairs and defence. It is authorized to have executive, legislative and independent powers, including final decision-making power. The Basic Law specifies that in addition to Chinese, English can also be used in government bodies and that in addition to the national flag and the national emblem of the PRC, the HKSAR can use its own regional flag and logo. It aims to maintain the capitalist economic and commercial systems previously practiced in Hong Kong. The third paragraph lists the fundamental policy of the People`s Republic of China towards Hong Kong: the United States was represented at the award ceremony in Hong Kong by Madeleine Albright, then Minister of Foreign Affairs.  But it partly boycotted them in protest at China`s dissolution of Hong Kong`s democratically elected legislature.  Faced with the increasing openness of the Government of the People`s Republic of China and economic reforms on the continent, Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, sought the agreement of the People`s Republic of China on the continuation of the British presence on the territory.  As a result, because the surrender of Hong Kong took place at the end of half a century of decolonization and the surrender meant that the United Kingdom became for the first time in its history without significant territories, dominations or colonies (United Kingdom, having bequeathed the nascent domains of its later empire by inheriting the colonial possessions of the Kingdom of England after the adoption of the acts of the Union in 1707. The handover of Hong Kong to China is considered by some to be the conclusion of the British Empire, with July 1, 1997 being its end date and the handover ceremony its last diplomatic act.