This article describes the process of the Sino-British negotiations over Hong Kong that led to the signing of the Joint Declaration of 1984. It shows how the British, as the weaker party in the asymmetrical negotiations, retreated from their initial proposals and how they came to work within the parameters set by the Chinese side. This then helped them to gain concessions from the other side that were important to them in managing the interim period of their rule, while helping to safeguard the territory after its reversion to China. The article highlights the link between the communications among the top leaders and the conduct of the negotiations, showing how skillfully the British identified the other side's concerns and perspectives and how they were able to use the subtleties of language and pressure of time to their advantage. The British experience has important bearings on the literature of international negotiations.