History in Hong Kong Island

Edit This

British Colonization

When Britain hauled down the Union Jack at midnight on June 30, 1997, Hong Kong's colonial status that had lasted 156 years, 5 months and 10 days ended. In June 1843 Hong Kong was officially declared a British Crown Colony. Since its 19th century foundation, Hong Kong has been mired in controversy. It all began in 1841 when Britain's remaining plenipotentiary in China, Trade Superintendent Captain Charles Elliot, RN, annexed Hong Kong Island on his own volition, and by force obtained trade concessions, recovered compensation for thousands of chests of British opium confiscated earlier at Canton, and redeemed a bent British pride.

The colonization of Hong Kong was finalized when Britain forced China to lease additional New Territories for 99 years in 1898. Britain recognized the treaty by paying HK $5,000 in rent. The People's Republic of China refused to recognize treaties signed under the duress of gunboat diplomacy, but despite this nonrecognition, China inexplicably accepted the annual rental fee. The Chinese said there was no contract, or that the contract was null and void, but they inscrutably accepted and thanked the British for their annual donation. At the end of this process, the Crown Colony gained about 350 square miles (565 kilometers) spread over the mainland and 234 outlying islands.

Hong Kong Embraces Capitalism

China turned its back on its former ally, the former USSR, and overtly embraced the capitalistic West, western businessmen and tourists. Mao's death in 1976, and the subsequent "gang of four" cleared the way for the more practical leadership of Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping. In 1978, Hong Kong received its first official visitor from north of the border since 1949. Significantly, the caller was Li Chiang, China's Minister of Trade. The following year, Hong Kong's Governor, Sir Murray MacLehose, was invited to Peking where he met with Deng, who advised Hong Kong investors to put their minds at ease. That assurance's effect in Hong Kong and other international boardrooms was ecstasy.

Special Economic Zone

On the economic side, a Special Economic Zone established on the Chinese side of the border at Shenzhen had embraced more than 1,000 local co-ventures of Hong Kong expertise and money and Chinese land and labor by the end of 1983. Some of these ventures were resorts, golf clubs and amusement parks that helped the average Hong Kong worker part with his money (only Hong Kong dollars were used). China-controlled companies have actively, and for the most part, openly participated in Hong Kong's subsequent property boom by investing billions of Hong Kong dollars in local enterprises.

The Future of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a well-oiled money-making machine. Hong Kong is not a democracy, it's a contemporary anachronism, a living museum piece of post colonial power and economics. Hong Kong is a working model of the perfect corporate state.


Contributors
January 19, 2010 change by sequoia maner
January 03, 2010 new by damiandavilarojas

Nearby History Guides

Where World66 helps you find the best deals on Hong Kong Island Hotels