Dalena Wright

Diplomacy Ends at Midnight

Diplomacy Ends at Midnight

The Long Return of Hong Kong to China


British Hong Kong ended in the last minutes of 30 June 1997. Diplomacy Ends at Midnight traces the extraordinary twists and turns of Hong Kong's long drawn out, but unavoidable, reunion with China, when its 99-year leasehold on much of the colony's territory expired. 25 years ago, Britain did not want to return Hong Kong to its once and future owner, and most Hong Kongers didn't want them to either, but the choice was not theirs to make.

Through exceptional archival research and interviews with many of the participants, Dalena Wright traces the intricate diplomacy by which the British sought to resist and then ultimately had to accept the inevitable reversion. The book tells the story of governors, prime ministers, presidents and Chinese leaders who believed for a century that ownership of the tiny entrepot was worth diplomatic standoffs. And when there were no more quarrels to be had, it explains how in the final years British diplomats and their political masters managed the reversion they had not wanted. For 99 years, while they waited for midnight, China and Britain - often as adversaries but occasionally as collaborators - watched Hong Kong grow into a glittering, world-class city. In the end it became a trophy that neither wanted the other to own. How Britain won and lost Hong Kong is the subject of this new history.