New Territories

New Territories

New Territories: see Hong Kong.

New Territories, abbreviated to NT or N.T., is a region in Hong Kong excluding Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Stonecutters Island. Historically, it is the region described in The Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory. According to that the territories comprise the mainland area north of the Boundary Street of Kowloon Peninsula and south of the Sham Chun River which is the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China, as well as over 200 outlying Islands including Lantau Island, Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, and Peng Chau in the territory of Hong Kong.

Later, after the establishment of New Kowloon, the extension of urban Kowloon between the Boundary Street and the Kowloon Ranges spanned from Lai Chi Kok to Lei Yue Mun, the New Kowloon was gradually urbanised and absorbed into Kowloon and finally excluded from New Territories. Hence, the New Territories now is only the mainland north of the Kowloon Ranges and south of the Sham Chun River, as well as the Outlying Islands. It comprises an area of 952km² (368 sq mi).

The New Territories were leased from Qing China to the United Kingdom in 1898 for 99 years in the Second Convention of Peking (The Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory). Upon the expiration of the lease, it was transferred to People's Republic of China in 1997, together with the Qing ceded territories of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula.

In 2006, New Territories had a population of 3,573,635 and its population density was 3,748 per km².


Lease of New Territories

Hong Kong Island was ceded to Britain in 1841 and Kowloon south of Boundary Street and Stonecutters Island in 1860. The colony of Hong Kong attracted a large number of Chinese and Westerners to seek their fortune in the city. Its population increased rapidly and the city became over crowded. The outbreak of bubonic plague in 1894 became a concern to the Hong Kong Government. There was a need to expand the colony to accommodate its growing population. The Qing Dynasty's defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War has shown that it was incapable of defending itself. Victoria City and Victoria Harbour were vulnerable to any hostile forces launching attacks from the hills of Kowloon.

In January 1898, Germany was given a lease of Jiaozhouwan (Kiaochow) following the murder of two German missionaries by bandits in Shandong (Shantung) province. Seeking to expand its own influence in northeastern China, Russia demanded Port Arthur (Lüshunkou) in the nearby Liaodong (Liaotung) peninsula in March 1898. One month later, France was granted a lease for Guangzhouwan (Kwang-Chou-Wan) in Guangdong (Kwangtung), close to its existing colonies in Southeast Asia.

Alarmed by European encroachment in China, Britain also feared for the security of Hong Kong. Using the most favoured nation clause that it had negotiated with Peking, the United Kingdom demanded the extension of Kowloon to counter the influence of France in southern China in June 1898. In July, it secured Weihaiwei in Shandong in the north as a base for operations against the Germans in Qingdao (Tsingtao) and the Russians in Port Arthur. Chinese officials stayed in the wall cities of Kowloon City and Weihaiwei.

The extension of Kowloon was called the New Territories. The additional land was estimated to be 365 square miles (945 km2) or 12 times the size of the existing Colonial Hong Kong at the time.

British assumption of sovereignty

Although the Convention was signed on the 9 June 1898 and became effective on 1 July, the British did not take over the New Territories immediately. During this period, there was no Hong Kong Governor and Wilsone Black acted as administrator. Steward Lockhart, the Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong, was sent back from England to make a survey of New Territories before formal transfer. The survey found that the new frontier at Sham Chun River (Shenzhen river) suggested by Wilsone Black was far from ideal. It excluded the town of Shenzhen (Sham Chun), and the boundary would divide the town. There was no mountain range as a natural border. Lockhard suggested moving the frontier to the line of hills north of Shenzhen. This suggestion was not received favorably and the Chinese official suggested the frontier be moved to the hill much further south of the Sham Chun River. It was settled in March 1899 that the boundary remain at the Sham Chun River.

The new Hong Kong Governor Henry Blake arrived in November 1898. A takeover date was chosen as 17 April 1899 and Tai Po was chosen as the administrative centre. However the transfer was not smooth and peaceful. Before the handover in early April, Captain Superintendent of Police, Francis Henry May and some policemen erected a flagstaff and temporary headquarters at Tai Po and posted the Governor's proclamation of the takeover date.

Lord Lugard was Governor from 1907 to 1912, and he proposed the return of Weihaiwei to the Chinese government, in return for the ceding of the leased New Territories in perpetuity. The proposal was not received favourably, although if it had been acted on, Hong Kong might have remained forever in British hands.

New town development

Much of the New Territories were, and to a limited extent still are, rural areas. Attempts at modernising the area were did not become fully committed until the late 1970s, in which many new towns were built to accommodate the overspill from the urbanized areas of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Despite rapid development of the new towns which has resulted in a population of over 3 million, the Hong Kong Government confines built-up areas to a few areas and reserves large parts of the region as parkland.

Sovereignty transfer to PRC

As the expiration date of the lease neared in the 1980s, talks between the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China led to the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration (1984), in which the whole of Hong Kong would be returned, instead of only the New Territories. This is because Hong Kong's new airport, shipping ports, reservoirs and other vital installations were all in the New Territories. Had only the New Territories been returned to China, it would also have been difficult to accommodate those New Territories residents moving to the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island.


The New Territories comprise the following districts:

New Kowloon covers the entirety of the Wong Tai Sin and Kwun Tong districts, as well as the mainland portion of the Sham Shui Po District (i.e. excluding the Stonecutters Island) and the northern portion of the Kowloon City District (portion to the north of the Boundary Street/Prince Edward Road West, as well as reclaimed land including the Kai Tak Airport).

See also

External links


Further reading

  • Lee Ho Yin and Lynne D. DiStefano, A Tale of Two Villages: The Story of Changing Village Life in the New Territories (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press), 2002.

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