This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
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July 1 is the 182nd day of the year (183rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 183 days remaining until the end of the year. The end of this day marks the halfway point of a leap year. It also falls on the same day of the week as New Year’s Day in a leap year.
On this day in 1997, Hong Kong returned to China.
At midnight on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong reverts back to Chinese rule in a ceremony attended by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles of Wales, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A few thousand Hong Kongers protested the turnover, which was otherwise celebratory and peaceful.
Hong Kong is one of two special administrative regions (SARs) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China’s south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour. With a land mass of 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) and a population of seven million people, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Hong Kong’s population is 95 percent ethnic Chinese and 5 percent from other groups. Hong Kong’s Han Chinese majority originate mainly from the cities of Guangzhou and Taishan in the neighbouring Guangdong province.
Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the First Opium War (1839-42). Originally confined to Hong Kong Island, the colony’s boundaries were extended in stages to the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories by 1898. It was occupied by Japan during the Pacific War, after which the British resumed control until 1997, when the PRC acquired sovereignty. The region espoused minimum government intervention under the ethos of positive non-interventionism during the colonial era. The time period greatly influenced the current culture of Hong Kong, often described as “East meets West”, and the educational system, which used to loosely follow the system in England until reforms implemented in 2009.
Under the principle of “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong has a different political system from mainland China. Hong Kong’s independent judiciary functions under the common law framework. The Basic Law of Hong Kong, its constitutional document, which stipulates that Hong Kong shall have a “high degree of autonomy” in all matters except foreign relations and military defence, governs its political system. Although it has a burgeoning multi-party system, a small-circle electorate controls half of its legislature. An 800-person Election Committee selects the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, the head of government.
As one of the world’s leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation and free trade, and the currency, Hong Kong dollar, is the ninth most traded currency in the world. The lack of space caused demand for denser constructions, which developed the city to a centre for modern architecture and the world’s most vertical city. The dense space also led to a highly developed transportation network with public transport travelling rate exceeding 90 percent, the highest in the world. Hong Kong has numerous high international rankings in various aspects. For instance, its economic freedom, financial and economic competitiveness, quality of life, corruption perception, Human Development Index, etc., are all ranked highly.
69 – Tiberius Julius Alexander orders his Roman legions in Alexandria to swear allegiance to Vespasian as Emperor.
1569 – Union of Lublin: the Kingdom of Poland and the Great Duchy of Lithuania confirm a real union; the united country is called the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth or the Republic of Both Nations.
1770 – Lexell’s Comet passed closer to the Earth than any other comet in recorded history, approaching to a distance of 0.0146 a.u.
1855 – Signing of the Quinault Treaty: the Quinault and the Quileute cede their land to the United States.
1858 – Joint reading of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace’s papers on evolution to the Linnean Society.
1862 – American Civil War: the Battle of Malvern Hill takes place. It is the final battle in the Seven Days Campaign, part of the George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.
1863 – Keti Koti (Emancipation Day) in Suriname, marking the abolition of slavery by the Netherlands.
1863 – American Civil War: the Battle of Gettysburg begins.
1867 – The British North America Act of 1867 takes effect as the Constitution of Canada, creating the Canadian Confederation and the federal dominion of Canada; Sir John A. Macdonald is sworn in as the first Prime Minister of Canada.
1870 – The United States Department of Justice formally comes into existence.
1873 – Prince Edward Island joins the Canadian Confederation.
1874 – The Sholes and Glidden typewriter, the first commercially successful typewriter, goes on sale.
1878 – Canada joins the Universal Postal Union.
1879 – Charles Taze Russell publishes the first edition of the religious magazine The Watchtower.
1881 – The world’s first international telephone call is made between St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, and Calais, Maine, United States.
1881 – General Order 70, the culmination of the Cardwell and Childers reforms of the British Army, comes into effect.
1885 – The United States terminates reciprocity and fishery agreement with Canada.
1890 – Canada and Bermuda are linked by telegraph cable.
1898 – Spanish-American War: the Battle of San Juan Hill is fought in Santiago de Cuba.
1908 – SOS is adopted as the international distress signal.
1915 – Lieutenant Kurt Wintgens achieves the first known aerial victory with a synchronized gun-equipped fighter plane, the Fokker M.5K/MG Eindecker.
1916 – World War I: First day on the Somme – On the first day of the Battle of the Somme 19,000 soldiers of the British Army are killed and 40,000 wounded.
1921 – The Communist Party of China is founded.
1923 – The Canadian Parliament suspends all Chinese immigration.
1931 – United Airlines begins service (as Boeing Air Transport).
1935 – Grant Park Music Festival begins its tradition of free summer symphonic music concert series in Chicago’s Grant Park, which continues as the United States’ only annual free outdoor classical music concert series.
1942 – World War II: first Battle of El Alamein.
1942 – The Australian Federal Government becomes the sole collector of Income Tax in Australia as the State Income Tax is abolished.
1943 – Tokyo City merges with Tokyo Prefecture and is dissolved. Since then, no city in Japan has had the name “Tokyo” (present-day Tokyo is not officially a city).
1947 – The Philippine Air Force is established.
1948 – Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Quaid-i-Azam) inaugurates Pakistan’s central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan.
1949 – The merger of two princely states of India, Cochin and Travancore, into the state of Thiru-Kochi (later re-organized as Kerala) in the Indian Union ends more than 1,000 years of princely rule by the Cochin Royal Family.
1957 – The International Geophysical Year begins.
1958 – The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation links television broadcasting across Canada via microwave.
1958 – Flooding of Canada’s St. Lawrence Seaway begins.
1959 – The Party of the African Federation holds its constitutive conference.
1959 – Specific values for the international yard, avoirdupois pound and derived units (e.g. inch, mile and ounce) are adopted after agreement between the U.S.A., the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries.
1960 – Independence of Somalia.
1960 – Ghana becomes a Republic and Kwame Nkrumah becomes its first President as Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom ceases to be its Head of state.
1962 – Independence of Rwanda.
1962 – Independence of Burundi.
1963 – ZIP Codes are introduced for United States mail.
1963 – The British Government admits that former diplomat Kim Philby had worked as a Soviet agent.
1966 – The first color television transmission in Canada takes place from Toronto.
1967 – The European Community is formally created out of a merger with the Common Market, the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Atomic Energy Commission.
1967 – Canada celebrates the 100th anniversary of the British North America Act, 1867, which officially made Canada its own federal dominion.
1968 – The CIA’s Phoenix Program is officially established.
1968 – The Nuclear non-proliferation treaty is signed in Washington, D.C., London and Moscow by sixty-two countries.
1968 – Formal separation of the United Auto Workers from the AFL-CIO.
1970 – President General Yahya Khan abolishes One-Unit of West Pakistan restoring the provinces.
1972 – The first Gay Pride march in England takes place.
1976 – Portugal grants autonomy to Madeira.
1978 – The Northern Territory in Australia is granted Self-Government.
1979 – Sony introduces the Walkman.
1980 – O Canada officially becomes the national anthem of Canada.
1987 – The American radio station WFAN in New York City is launched as the world’s first all-sports radio station.
1990 – German re-unification: East Germany accepts the Deutsche Mark as its currency, thus uniting the economies of East and West Germany.
1991 – The Warsaw Pact is officially dissolved at a meeting in Prague.
1997 – The People’s Republic of China resumes sovereignty over the city-state of Hong Kong, ending 156 years of British colonial rule.
1999 – The Scottish Parliament is officially opened by Queen Elizabeth on the day that legislative powers are officially transferred from the old Scottish Office in London to the new devolved Scottish Executive in Edinburgh.
2002 – The International Criminal Court is established to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
2004 – Saturn orbit insertion of Cassini-Huygens begins at 01:12 UTC and ends at 02:48 UTC.
2006 – The first operation of Qinghai-Tibet Railway in the People’s Republic of China.
2007 – Smoking in England is banned in all public indoor spaces.
2008 – Rioting erupted in Mongolia in response to allegations of fraud surrounding the 2008 legislative elections.
* Canada Day, formerly Dominion Day. (Canada)
* Christian Feast Day:
* Aaron (Syriac Christianity)
* Feast of the Most Precious Blood
* Blessed Fray Junípero Serra
* Julius and Aaron
* Leontius of Autun
* July 1 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Doctors’ Day (India)
* Earliest day on which St Pauls Carnival can fall, while July 7 is the latest; celebrated on the first Saturday in July. (Bristol)
* Emancipation Day (Netherlands Antilles)
* Emancipation Day or Keti Koti (Suriname)
* Hong Kong SAR Establishment Day (Hong Kong)
* Independence Day, celebrates the independence of Burundi from Belgium in 1962.
* Independence Day, celebrates the independence of Rwanda from Belgium in 1962.
* International Tartan Day (Australia and New Zealand)
* July Morning tradition (Bulgaria)
* Madeira Day (Madeira)
* Memorial Day (Newfoundland and Labrador)
* Moving Day (Quebec)
* Republic Day (Ghana)
* Republic Day, celebrates the independence of Somalia from Italy and the unification of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland to form Somali Republic. (Somalia)
* Sir Seretse Khama Day (Botswana)