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In 1984 Britain and the People's Republic of China (PRC) entered into an agreement providing for termination of Hong Kong's status as a Crown Colony and "resum[ption of] the exercise of sovereignty" over the territory by China in 1997. Under the terms of the Joint Declaration (Declaration), China bound itself to limit its exercise of sovereignty in the interest of "maint[aining] the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong."' The Declaration promises local autonomy and the perpetuation of the current economic and social systems. It also includes a "bill of rights" which, if effective, would preserve for Hong Kong residents personal and economic freedoms still unknown on the Mainland.

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