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History of Hong Kong
Timeline

    Prehistoric
    Imperial (221 BC – 1800s)
    Colonial (1800s–1930s)
    Occupied (1940s)
    Modern Hong Kong (1950s–1997)
        1950s | 60s | 70s | 80s | 90s
        Handover to PRC rule
    Since 2000

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Hong Kong began as a coastal island geographically located in southern China. While pockets of settlements had taken place in the region with archaeological findings dating back thousands of years, regularly written records were not made until the engagement of Imperial China and the British Colony in the territory. Starting out as a fishing village, salt production site and trading ground, it would evolve into a military port of strategic importance and eventually an international financial centre that enjoys the world's 6th highest GDP (PPP) per capita, supporting 33% of the foreign capital flows into China.[1]

Contents

Prehistoric era

Archaeological findings suggesting human activity in Hong Kong date back over 30,000 years. Stone tools of the pre-historic people during the old stone age have been excavated in Sai Kung in Wong Tei Tung. The stone tools found in Sai Kung were perhaps from a stone tools making ground. Religious carvings on outlying islands and coastal areas have also been found, possibly related to Che people in Neolithic. The latest findings dating from the Paleolithic suggest that Wong Tei Tung (黃地峒) is one of the most ancient settlements in Hong Kong.

Imperial China era (221 BC – 1842)

The territory was incorporated into China during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC), and the area was firmly consolidated under Nanyue (203 BC - 111 BC.) Archaeological evidence indicates that the population increased since the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220). In the 1950s, the tomb at Lei Cheng Uk from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 – 220) was excavated and archaeologists began to investigate the possibility that salt production flourished in Hong Kong around 2000 years ago, although conclusive evidence has not been found.

Tai Po Hoi, the sea of Tai Po, was a major pearl hunting harbour in China from the Han Dynasty through the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), with activities peaking during the Southern Han (917 to 971).

During the Tang Dynasty, the Guangdong region flourished as an international trading center. The Tuen Mun region in what is now Hong Kong's New Territories served as a port, naval base, salt production centre and later, base for the exploitation of pearls. Lantau Island was also the salt production centre where the salt smugglers riots broke out against the government.

In 1276 during the Mongol invasion, the Southern Song Dynasty court moved to Fujian, then to Lantau Island and later to today's Kowloon City, but the child emperor, Zhao Bing, after being defeated in the Battle of Yamen, committed suicide by drowning with his officials. Tung Chung valley, named after a hero who gave up his life for the emperor, is believed to have been a base for the court. Hau Wong, an official of the emperor is still worshipped in Hong Kong today.

However, during the Mongol period, Hong Kong saw its first population boom as Chinese refugees entered the area. The main reason for them to enter Hong Kong was because of wars and famines, and some groups even went there to find jobs. Five clans of Hau (Hou, 候), Tang (Deng, 鄧), Pang (Peng, 彭) and Liu (Liao, 廖) and Man (Wen, 文) were Punti (本地人) from Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangxi in China. Despite the immigration and light development of agriculture, the area was hilly and relatively barren. People had to rely on salt, pearl and fishery trades to produce income. Some clans built walled villages to protect themselves from the threat of bandits, rival clans and wild animals. The famous Chinese pirate Cheung Po Tsai also had many legendary stories in Hong Kong.

The last dynasty in China, Qing Dynasty, would also be the last to come in contact with Hong Kong. As a military outpost and trading port, the Hong Kong territory would gain the attention of the world.

Colonial Hong Kong era (1800s – 1930s)

Date Treaty Result
25 January, 1841 Convention of Chuenpeh Preliminary cession of Hong Kong Island to the United Kingdom
29 August, 1842 Treaty of Nanjing Cession of Hong Kong Island, founded as a crown colony of the United Kingdom
18 October, 1860 Convention of Beijing Cession of Kowloon (south of Boundary Street)
1 July, 1898 Second Convention of Beijing Lease of the New Territories (including New Kowloon)
1888 German map of Hong Kong, Macau, and Canton (now Guangzhou)

By the early 19th century, the British Empire trade was heavily dependent upon the importation of tea from China. While the British exported to China luxurious items like clocks and watches, there was an overwhelming imbalance between the trades. China developed a strong demand for silver, which was a difficult commodity for the British to come by in large quantities. The counterbalance of trades came with illegal opium entering China. Lin Zexu would become the Chinese commissioner who voiced to Queen Victoria the Qing state's opposition to the unlawful opium trade. It resulted in the Opium Wars, which led to British victories over China and the cession of Hong Kong to the United Kingdom via the enactment of the new treaties in 1842.

In April 1899, the residents of Kam Tin (錦田) rebelled against the rule of the British colonial government. They defended themselves in Kat Hing Wai (吉慶圍), a walled village. After several unsuccessful attacks by the British troops, the iron gate was blasted open. The gate was then shipped to London for exhibition. Under the demand of the Tang (鄧) clan in 1924, the gate was eventually returned in 1925 by the 16th governor, Sir Reginald Stubbs (司徒拔爵士).

After the territorial settlements, the achievements of the era set the foundation for the culture and commerce in modern Hong Kong for years to come. The territory's commercial and industry transitioned in numerous ways: Hong Kong and China Gas Company to the first electric company; Rickshaws transited to bus, ferries, trams and airline,[2] there was no shortage of improvements. Every industry went through major transformation and growth. Other vital establishments included changes in philosophy, starting with a western-style education with Frederick Stewart,[3] which was a critical step in separating Hong Kong from mainland China during the political turmoil associated with the falling Qing dynasty. The monumental start of the financial powerhouse industry of the far east began with the first large scale bank.[4]

The period is also challenged by the onslaught of the Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague, which provided the pretext for racial zoning with the creation of Peak Reservation Ordinance[5] and recognizing the importance of the first hospital. On the outbreak of World War I in 1914, fear of a possible attack on the colony led to an exodus of 60,000 Chinese. Statistically Hong Kong's population continued to boom in the following decades from 530,000 in 1916 to 725,000 in 1925. Nonetheless the crisis in mainland China in the 1920s and 1930s left Hong Kong vulnerable to a strategic invasion from Imperial Japan.

Japanese occupation era (1940s)

Hong Kong was occupied by Japan from 25 December 1941 to 15 August 1945. The period, called '3 years and 8 months' halted the economy. The British, Canadians, Indians and the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Forces resisted the Japanese invasion commanded by Sakai Takashi which started on 8 December 1941, eight hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese achieved air superiority on the first day of battle and the defensive forces were outnumbered. The British and the Indians retreated from the Gin Drinker's Line and consequently from Kowloon under heavy aerial bombardment and artillery barrage. Fierce fighting continued on Hong Kong Island; the only reservoir was lost. Canadian Winnipeg Grenadiers fought at the crucial Wong Nai Chong Gap that secured the passage between downtown and the secluded southern parts of the island.

On 25 December 1941 – which has gone down in history as Black Christmas to local people – British colonial officials headed by the Governor of Hong Kong, Mark Aitchison Young, surrendered in person at the Japanese headquarters on the third floor of the Peninsula Hotel. Isogai Rensuke became the first Japanese governor of Hong Kong.

During the Japanese occupation, hyper-inflation and food rationing became the norm of daily lives. It became unlawful to own Hong Kong Dollars, which were replaced by the Japanese Military Yen, a currency without reserves issued by the Imperial Japanese Army administration. Some estimate that as many as 10,000 women were raped in the first few days after Hong Kong's capture and large number of suspected dissidents were executed. Philip Snow, a prominent historian of the period, said that the Japanese cut rations for civilians to conserve food for soldiers, usually to starvation levels and deported many to famine- and disease-ridden areas of the mainland. Most of the repatriated actually had come to Hong Kong just a few years earlier to flee the terror of the Second Sino-Japanese War in mainland China.

By the end of the war in 1945 by liberation in Hong Kong by joint British and Chinese troops against the Japanese during the Second Battle of Hong Kong, the population of Hong Kong shrunk to 600,000, less than half of the pre-war population of 1.6 million. The communist takeover of mainland China in 1949 led to another population boom in Hong Kong. Thousands of refugees emigrated from mainland China to Hong Kong, and made it an important entrepôt until the United Nations ordered a trade embargo on mainland China due to the Korean War. More refugees came during the Great Leap Forward.

Modern Hong Kong under British rule (1950s – 1997)

1950s

Hong Kong, 1950s

Skills and capital brought by refugees of Mainland China, especially from Shanghai, along with a vast pool of cheap labor helped revive the economy. At the same time, many foreign firms relocated their offices from Shanghai to Hong Kong. Enjoying unprecedented growth Hong Kong would transform from a territory of entrepôt trade to industrial and manufacturing. The early industrial centers, where many of the workers spent the majority of their days, turned out anything that could be produced with small space from buttons, artificial flowers, umbrellas, textile, enamelware, footware to plastics.

Large squatter camps developed throughout the territory providing homes for the massive number of growing immigrants. The camps, however, posed a fire and health hazard, leading to disasters like the Shek Kip Mei fire. Governor Alexander Grantham responded with a "multi story buildings" plan as a standard. It was the beginning of the high rise buildings. Conditions in public housing were very basic with several families sharing communal cooking facilities. Other aspects of life would change as traditional cantonese opera began to overlap big screen cinemas. The tourism industry would begin to formalise. North Point was known as "Little Shanghai" (小上海), since in the minds of many, it has already become the replacement for the surrendered Shanghai in China.[6]

1960s

Hong Kong, 1960s

The manufacturing industry opened a new decade utilizing large portions of the population. The period is considered the first turning point for Hong Kong's economy. The construction business would also be revamped with new detailed guidelines for the first time since World War II. While Hong Kong started out with a low GDP, it would use the textile industry as the foundation to boost the economy. China's cultural revolution would put Hong Kong on a new political stage. Events like the 1967 riot would fill the streets with home-made bombs and chaos. Bomb disposal experts from the police and the British military defused as many as 8,000 home-made bombs. Statistics rated 1 in every 8 bombs were genuine.[7]

Family values and Chinese tradition would be challenged like never before as people spent more time in the factories than at home. Other obstacles include water shortages, long working hours coupled with extremely low wages were all trademarks of the era. The Hong Kong Flu of 1968 would infect 15% of the population.[8] Amidst all the struggle, "Made in Hong Kong" went from a label that marked cheap low-grade products to a label that marked high-quality products.[9]

1970s

Hong Kong, 1970s

The 1970s also saw the extension of government subsidised education from six years to nine years and the creation of Hong Kong's country parks system.

The opening of the mainland Chinese market and rising salaries drove many manufacturers north. Hong Kong consolidated its position as a commercial and tourism centre in the South-East Asia region. High life expectancy, literacy, per-capita income and other socioeconomic measures attest to Hong Kong's achievements over the last four decades of the 20th Century. Higher income also led to the introduction of the first private housing estates with Taikoo Shing. The period saw a boom in residential high rises, many of the people's homes became part of Hong Kong's skyline and scenery.

In 1974, Murray McLehose founded ICAC, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, in order to combat corruption within the police force. The extent of corruption was so widespread that a mass police petition took place resisting prosecutions. Despite early opposition to the ICAC by the police force, Hong Kong was quite successful in its anti-corruption efforts, eventually becoming one of the least corrupt societies in the world.

1980s

Hong Kong, 1980s

In 1982, the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, hoped that the increasing openness of the PRC government and the economic reform in the mainland would allow the continuation of British rule. The resulting meeting, led to the signing of Sino-British Joint Declaration and the proposal of the One country, two systems concept by Deng Xiaoping. Political news dominated the media, while real estate took a major upswing. The financial world would also be rattled by panics, leading to waves of policy changes and Black Saturday. Meanwhile Hong Kong was now recognised as one of the most wealthy representatives of the far east. At the same time, the warnings of the 1997 handover raised emigration statistics to an all new historical level. Many would leave Hong Kong for United States, Canada, United Kingdom and any other destination with no communist influence.

Hong Kong's Cinema would enjoy one paramount run that would put it on the international map. Some of the biggest names included Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-Fat. The music world also saw a new group of cantopop stars like Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung. But everything seemed to be overshadowed by an uncertainty of the future.

1990s

Hong Kong, 1990s

On 4 April 1990, the Hong Kong Basic Law was officially accepted as the mini-constitution of the Hong Kong SAR after the handover. The pro-Beijing bloc welcomed the Basic Law, calling it the most democratic legal system to ever exist in the PRC. The pro-democratic bloc criticised it as not democratic enough. In July 1992, Chris Patten was appointed as the last British Governor of Hong Kong. Patten had been Chairman of the Conservative Party in the UK until he lost his parliamentary seat in the general election earlier that year. Relations with the PRC government in Beijing became increasingly strained, as Patten introduced democratic reforms that increased the number of elected members in the Legislative Council. This caused considerable annoyance to the PRC, which saw this as a breach of the Basic Law. On 1 July 1997 Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China by the United Kingdom. The old Legislative Council, elected under Chris Patten's reforms, was replaced by the Provisional Legislative Council elected by a selection committee whose members were appointed by the PRC government. Tung Chee Hwa, elected in December by a selection committee with members appointed by the PRC government, assumed duty as the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Unchanged after 1997 Changed after 1997
  1. English is still taught in all schools. However, many schools teach in Cantonese in parallel with Mandarin and English.
  2. The border with the mainland continued to be patrolled as before.
  3. Hong Kong remained an individual member of various international organizations, such as the IOC, APEC and WTO.
  4. Hong Kong continues to negotiate and maintain its own aviation bilateral treaties with foreign countries and territories. Flights between Hong Kong and China mainland are treated as international flights (or more commonly known as inter-territorial flights in China mainland).
  5. Hong Kong SAR passport holders have easier access to countries in Europe and North America, while mainland citizens do not. Citizens in mainland China can apply for a visa to Hong Kong only from the PRC Government. Many former colonial citizens can still use British National (Overseas) and British citizen passports after 1997. (Main article: British nationality law and Hong Kong)
  6. It continued to have more political freedoms than the mainland China, including freedom of the press.
  7. Motor vehicles in Hong Kong, unlike those in mainland China, continue to drive on the left.
  8. Electrical plugs (BS1363), TV transmissions (PAL-I) and many other technical standards from the United Kingdom are still utilised in Hong Kong. However, telephone companies ceased installing British Standard BS 6312 telephone sockets in Hong Kong. HK also adopts the digital TV standard devised in mainland China. (Main article: Technical standards in colonial Hong Kong)
  9. Hong Kong retains a separate international dialing code (852) and telephone numbering plan from that of the mainland. calls between Hong Kong and the mainland still require international dialling.
  10. The former British military drill, marching and words of command in English continued in all disciplinary services including all civil organizations. The PLA soldiers of the Chinese Garrison in Hong Kong have their own drills and Mandarin words of command.
  11. All statues of British monarchs like Queen Victoria and King George remain.
  12. Road names like "Queen's Road", "King's Road" remain.
  1. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong is now elected by a selection committee with 800 members, who mainly are elected from among professional sectors and pro-Chinese business in Hong Kong. The governor was appointed by the United Kingdom.
  2. All public offices now fly the flags of the PRC and the Hong Kong SAR. The Union Flag now flies only outside the British Consulate-General and other British premises.
  3. Queen Elizabeth II's portrait disappeared from banknotes, postage stamps and public offices. As of 2009, some pre-1997 coins and banknotes are still legal tenders and are in circulation.
  4. The 'Royal' title was dropped from almost all organisations that had been granted it, with the exception of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
  5. Legal references to the 'Crown' were replaced by references to the 'State', and barristers who had been appointed Queen's Counsel would now be known as Senior Counsel.
  6. A local honours system was introduced to replace the British honours system, with the Grand Bauhinia Medal replacing the Order of the British Empire.
  7. Public holidays changed, with the Queen's Official Birthday and other British-inspired occasions being replaced by PRC National Day and Hong Kong SAR Establishment Day.
  8. Many of the red Royal Mail pillar boxes were removed from the streets of Hong Kong and replaced by green Hongkong Post boxes. A few examples remain, but have been repainted.
  9. British citizens (without the right of abode) are no longer able to work in Hong Kong for one year without a visa; the policy was changed on 1 April 1997.
  10. Secondary education will move away from the English model of five years secondary schooling plus two years of university matriculation to the Chinese model of three years of junior secondary plus another three years of senior secondary. University education extends from three years to four.

Modern Hong Kong under China (post-1997 – present)

Hong Kong, 2000s

2000s

The new millennium signalled a series of events. A sizeable portion of the population that was previously against the handover found itself living with the adjustments. Article 23 became a controversy, and led to a marches in different parts of Hong Kong with as many as 750,000 people out of a population of approximately 6,800,000 at the time. The government also dealt with the SARS outbreak in 2003. Other health crisis such as the Bird Flu Pandemic (H5N1) gained momentum from the late 90s, and led to the disposal of millions of chicken and poultry. The slaughtering put Hong Kong at the center of global discussions. At the same time, the economy is trying to rebound fiscally. Hong Kong Disneyland was also introduced in the much turbulent time. In a very short time, the political climate heated up and the Chief Executive position would be challenged culturally, politically and managerially.

Hong Kong's skyline has continued to evolve, with two new supertall skyscrapers (one currently under construction) dominating. The 415 meter (1,362 foot) tall, 88 story Two International Finance Centre, completed in 2003, is currently Hong Kong's tallest building, but will soon be eclipsed by the 484 meter (1,588 foot) tall, 118 story International Commerce Centre, expected to be completed in 2010. Nine additional skyscrapers over 250 meters (825 feet) have also been completed during this time. [1]

See also

References

  1. ^ CIA gov. "CIA." HK GDP 2004. Retrieved on 2007-03-06.
  2. ^ Wiltshire, Trea. [First published 1987] (republished & reduced 2003). Old Hong Kong - Volume One. Central, Hong Kong: Text Form Asia books Ltd. ISBN Volume One 962-7283-59-2
  3. ^ Bickley, Gillian. [1997](1997). The Golden Needle: The Biography of Frederick Stewart (1836-1889). Hong Kong. ISBN 962-8027085
  4. ^ Lim, Patricia. [2002] (2002). Discovering Hong Hong's Cultural Heritage. Central, Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. ISBN Volume One 0-19-592723-0
  5. ^ [|Wordie, Jason] (2002). Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. pp. 74–75. ISBN 9622095631. http://www.amazon.com/Streets-Exploring-Hong-Kong-Island/dp/9622095631/ref=sr_11_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1214701525&sr=11-1.  
  6. ^ Wordie, Jason. [2002] (2002) Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962-2095631
  7. ^ Wiltshire, Trea. [First published 1987] (republished & reduced 2003). Old Hong Kong - Volume Three. Central, Hong Kong: Text Form Asia books Ltd. Page 12. ISBN Volume Three 962-7283-61-4
  8. ^ Starling, Arthur. [2006] (2006) Plague, SARS, and the Story of Medicine in Hong Kong. HK University Press. ISBN 9622098053
  9. ^ Buckley, Roger. [1997] (1997). Hong Kong: The Road to 1997 By Roger Buckley. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521469791

Further reading

  • Linda Butenhoff: Social movements and political reform in Hong Kong, Westport, Conn. [u.a.] : Praeger 1999, ISBN 0-275-96293-8

External links


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 v • d • e 

Hong Kong began as a coastal island geographically located in southern China. While pockets of settlements had taken place in the region with archaeological findings dating back thousands of years, regularly written records were not made until the engagement of Imperial China and the British Colony in the territory. Starting out as a fishing village, salt production site and trading ground, it would evolve into a military port of strategic importance and eventually an international financial centre that enjoys the world's 6th highest GDP (PPP) per capita, supporting 33% of the foreign capital flows into China.[1]

Contents

Prehistoric era

Archaeological findings suggesting human activity in Hong Kong date back over 30,000 years. Stone tools of the pre-historic people during the old stone age have been excavated in Sai Kung in Wong Tei Tung. The stone tools found in Sai Kung were perhaps from a stone tools making ground. Religious carvings on outlying islands and coastal areas have also been found, possibly related to Che people in Neolithic. The latest findings dating from the Paleolithic suggest that Wong Tei Tung (黃地峒) is one of the most ancient settlements in Hong Kong.

Imperial China era (221 BC – 1842)

The territory was incorporated into China during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC), and the area was firmly consolidated under Nanyue (203 BC - 111 BC.) Archaeological evidence indicates that the population increased since the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220). In the 1950s, the tomb at Lei Cheng Uk from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 – 220) was excavated and archaeologists began to investigate the possibility that salt production flourished in Hong Kong around 2000 years ago, although conclusive evidence has not been found.

Tai Po Hoi, the sea of Tai Po, was a major pearl hunting harbour in China from the Han Dynasty through the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), with activities peaking during the Southern Han (917 to 971).

During the Tang Dynasty, the Guangdong region flourished as an international trading center. The Tuen Mun region in what is now Hong Kong's New Territories served as a port, naval base, salt production centre and later, base for the exploitation of pearls. Lantau Island was also the salt production centre where the salt smugglers riots broke out against the government.

In 1276 during the Mongol invasion, the Southern Song Dynasty court moved to Fujian, then to Lantau Island and later to today's Kowloon City. Emperor Huaizong of Song, the last Song Dynasty emperor, was enthroned at Mui Wo on Lantau Island on May 10, 1278 at the age of 8. This event is commemorated by the Sung Wong Toi in Kowloon. After his defeat at the Battle of Yamen on March 19, 1279, the child emperor committed suicide by drowning with his officials at Mount Ya (modern Yamen Town in Guangdong). Tung Chung valley, named after a hero who gave up his life for the emperor, is believed to have been one of the locations for his court. Hau Wong, an official of the emperor is still worshipped in Hong Kong today.

During the Mongol period, Hong Kong saw its first population boom as Chinese refugees entered the area. The main reason for them to enter Hong Kong was because of wars and famines, and some groups even went there to find jobs. Five clans of Hau (Hou, 候), Tang (Deng, 鄧), Pang (Peng, 彭) and Liu (Liao, 廖) and Man (Wen, 文) were Punti (本地人) from Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangxi in China. Despite the immigration and light development of agriculture, the area was hilly and relatively barren. People had to rely on salt, pearl and fishery trades to produce income. Some clans built walled villages to protect themselves from the threat of bandits, rival clans and wild animals. The famous Chinese pirate Cheung Po Tsai also had many legendary stories in Hong Kong.

The last dynasty in China, Qing Dynasty, would also be the last to come in contact with Hong Kong. As a military outpost and trading port, the Hong Kong territory would gain the attention of the world.

Colonial Hong Kong era (1800s – 1930s)

Date Treaty Result
20 January 1841 Convention of Chuenpee Preliminary cession of Hong Kong Island to the United Kingdom
29 August 1842 Treaty of Nanjing Cession of Hong Kong Island, founded as a crown colony of the United Kingdom
18 October 1860 Convention of Beijing Cession of Kowloon (south of Boundary Street)
1 July 1898 Second Convention of Beijing Lease of the New Territories (including New Kowloon)

, and Canton (now Guangzhou)]] ]] By the early 19th century, the British Empire trade was heavily dependent upon the importation of tea from China. While the British exported to China luxurious items like clocks and watches, there was an overwhelming imbalance between the trades. China developed a strong demand for silver, which was a difficult commodity for the British to come by in large quantities. The counterbalance of trades came with illegal opium entering China. Lin Zexu would become the Chinese commissioner who voiced to Queen Victoria the Qing state's opposition to the unlawful opium trade. It resulted in the Opium Wars, which led to British victories over China and the cession of Hong Kong to the United Kingdom via the enactment of the new treaties in 1842.

In April 1899, the residents of Kam Tin (錦田) rebelled against the rule of the British colonial government. They defended themselves in Kat Hing Wai (吉慶圍), a walled village. After several unsuccessful attacks by the British troops, the iron gate was blasted open. The gate was then shipped to London for exhibition. Under the demand of the Tang (鄧) clan in 1924, the gate was eventually returned in 1925 by the 16th governor, Sir Reginald Stubbs (司徒拔爵士).

After the territorial settlements, the achievements of the era set the foundation for the culture and commerce in modern Hong Kong for years to come. The territory's commercial and industry transitioned in numerous ways: Hong Kong and China Gas Company to the first electric company; Rickshaws transited to bus, ferries, trams and airline,[2] there was no shortage of improvements. Every industry went through major transformation and growth. Other vital establishments included changes in philosophy, starting with a western-style education with Frederick Stewart,[3] which was a critical step in separating Hong Kong from mainland China during the political turmoil associated with the falling Qing dynasty. The monumental start of the financial powerhouse industry of the far east began with the first large scale bank.[4]

The period is also challenged by the onslaught of the Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague, which provided the pretext for racial zoning with the creation of Peak Reservation Ordinance[5] and recognising the importance of the first hospital. On the outbreak of World War I in 1914, fear of a possible attack on the colony led to an exodus of 60,000 Chinese. Statistically Hong Kong's population continued to boom in the following decades from 530,000 in 1916 to 725,000 in 1925. Nonetheless the crisis in mainland China in the 1920s and 1930s left Hong Kong vulnerable to a strategic invasion from Imperial Japan.

Japanese occupation era (1940s)

Hong Kong was occupied by Japan from 25 December 1941 to 15 August 1945. The period, called '3 years and 8 months' halted the economy. The British, Canadians, Indians and the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Forces resisted the Japanese invasion commanded by Sakai Takashi which started on 8 December 1941, eight hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese achieved air superiority on the first day of battle and the defensive forces were outnumbered. The British and the Indians retreated from the Gin Drinker's Line and consequently from Kowloon under heavy aerial bombardment and artillery barrage. Fierce fighting continued on Hong Kong Island; the only reservoir was lost. Canadian Winnipeg Grenadiers fought at the crucial Wong Nai Chong Gap that secured the passage between downtown and the secluded southern parts of the island.

On 25 December 1941 – which has gone down in history as Black Christmas to local people – British colonial officials headed by the Governor of Hong Kong, Mark Aitchison Young, surrendered in person at the Japanese headquarters on the third floor of the Peninsula Hotel. Isogai Rensuke became the first Japanese governor of Hong Kong.

During the Japanese occupation, hyper-inflation and food rationing became the norm of daily lives. It became unlawful to own Hong Kong Dollars, which were replaced by the Japanese Military Yen, a currency without reserves issued by the Imperial Japanese Army administration. Some estimate that as many as 10,000 women were raped in the first few days after Hong Kong's capture and large number of suspected dissidents were executed.[citation needed] Philip Snow, a prominent historian of the period, said that the Japanese cut rations for civilians to conserve food for soldiers, usually to starvation levels and deported many to famine- and disease-ridden areas of the mainland. Most of the repatriated actually had come to Hong Kong just a few years earlier to flee the terror of the Second Sino-Japanese War in mainland China.

By the end of the war in 1945 by liberation in Hong Kong by joint British and Chinese troops against the Japanese during the Second Battle of Hong Kong, the population of Hong Kong shrunk to 600,000, less than half of the pre-war population of 1.6 million. The communist takeover of mainland China in 1949 led to another population boom in Hong Kong. Thousands of refugees emigrated from mainland China to Hong Kong, and made it an important entrepôt until the United Nations ordered a trade embargo on mainland China due to the Korean War. More refugees came during the Great Leap Forward.

Modern Hong Kong under British rule (1950s – 1997)

1950s

Skills and capital brought by refugees of Mainland China, especially from Shanghai, along with a vast pool of cheap labour helped revive the economy. At the same time, many foreign firms relocated their offices from Shanghai to Hong Kong. Enjoying unprecedented growth Hong Kong would transform from a territory of entrepôt trade to industrial and manufacturing. The early industrial centres, where many of the workers spent the majority of their days, turned out anything that could be produced with small space from buttons, artificial flowers, umbrellas, textile, enamelware, footwear to plastics.

Large squatter camps developed throughout the territory providing homes for the massive number of growing immigrants. The camps, however, posed a fire and health hazard, leading to disasters like the Shek Kip Mei fire. Governor Alexander Grantham responded with a "multi storey buildings" plan as a standard. It was the beginning of the high rise buildings. Conditions in public housing were very basic with several families sharing communal cooking facilities. Other aspects of life would change as traditional Cantonese opera began to overlap big screen cinemas. The tourism industry would begin to formalise. North Point was known as "Little Shanghai" (小上海), since in the minds of many, it has already become the replacement for the surrendered Shanghai in China.[6]

1960s

The manufacturing industry opened a new decade employing large sections of the population. The period is considered a turning point for Hong Kong's economy. The construction business would also be revamped with new detailed guidelines for the first time since World War II. While Hong Kong started out with a low GDP, it would use the textile industry as the foundation to boost the economy. China's cultural revolution would put Hong Kong on a new political stage. Events like the 1967 riot would fill the streets with home-made bombs and chaos. Bomb disposal experts from the police and the British military defused as many as 8,000 home-made bombs. Statistics rated 1 in every 8 bombs were genuine.[7]

Family values and Chinese tradition would be challenged like never before as people spent more time in the factories than at home. Other features of the period included water shortages, long working hours coupled with extremely low wages. The Hong Kong Flu of 1968 would infect 15% of the population.[8] Amidst all the struggle, "Made in Hong Kong" went from a label that marked cheap low-grade products to a label that marked high-quality products.[9]

1970s

The 1970s also saw the extension of government subsidised education from six years to nine years and the setup of Hong Kong's country parks system.

The opening of the mainland Chinese market and rising salaries drove many manufacturers north. Hong Kong consolidated its position as a commercial and tourism centre in the South-East Asia region. High life expectancy, literacy, per-capita income and other socioeconomic measures attest to Hong Kong's achievements over the last four decades of the 20th Century. Higher income also led to the introduction of the first private housing estates with Taikoo Shing. The period saw a boom in residential high rises, many of the people's homes became part of Hong Kong's skyline and scenery.

In 1974, Murray McLehose founded ICAC, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, in order to combat corruption within the police force. The extent of corruption was so widespread that a mass police petition took place resisting prosecutions. Despite early opposition to the ICAC by the police force, Hong Kong was successful in its anti-corruption efforts, eventually becoming one of the least corrupt societies in the world.

1980s

In 1982, the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, hoped that the increasing openness of the PRC government and the economic reform in the mainland would allow the continuation of British rule. The resulting meeting led to the signing of Sino-British Joint Declaration and the proposal of the One country, two systems concept by Deng Xiaoping. Political news dominated the media, while real estate took a major upswing. The financial world would also be rattled by panics, leading to waves of policy changes and Black Saturday. Meanwhile Hong Kong was now recognised as one of the wealthiest representatives of the far east. At the same time, the warnings of the 1997 handover raised emigration statistics to an all new historical level. Many would leave Hong Kong for the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and any other destination with no communist influence.

Hong Kong's Cinema would enjoy one paramount run that would put it on the international map. Some of the biggest names included Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-fat. The music world also saw a new group of cantopop stars like Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung. But everything seemed to be overshadowed by an uncertainty of the future.

1990s

On 4 April 1990, the Hong Kong Basic Law was officially accepted as the mini-constitution of the Hong Kong SAR after the handover. The pro-Beijing bloc welcomed the Basic Law, calling it the most democratic legal system to ever exist in the PRC. The pro-democratic bloc criticised it as not democratic enough. In July 1992, Chris Patten was appointed as the last British Governor of Hong Kong. Patten had been Chairman of the Conservative Party in the UK until he lost his parliamentary seat in the general election earlier that year. Relations with the PRC government in Beijing became increasingly strained, as Patten introduced democratic reforms that increased the number of elected members in the Legislative Council. This caused considerable annoyance to the PRC, which saw this as a breach of the Basic Law. On 1 July 1997 Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China by the United Kingdom. The old Legislative Council, elected under Chris Patten's reforms, was replaced by the Provisional Legislative Council elected by a selection committee whose members were appointed by the PRC government. Tung Chee Hwa, elected in December by a selection committee with members appointed by the PRC government, assumed duty as the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Unchanged after 1997 Changed after 1997
  1. English is still taught in all schools. However, many schools teach in Mandarin in parallel with Cantonese and English.
  2. The border with the mainland continued to be patrolled as before.
  3. Hong Kong remained an individual member of various international organizations, such as the IOC, APEC and WTO.
  4. Hong Kong continues to negotiate and maintain its own aviation bilateral treaties with foreign countries and territories. Flights between Hong Kong and China mainland are treated as international flights (or more commonly known as inter-territorial flights in China mainland).
  5. Hong Kong SAR passport holders have easier access to countries in Europe and North America, while mainland citizens do not. Citizens in mainland China can apply for a visa to Hong Kong only from the PRC Government. Many former colonial citizens can still use British National (Overseas) and British citizen passports after 1997. (Main article: British nationality law and Hong Kong)
  6. It continued to have more political freedoms than the mainland China, including freedom of the press.
  7. Motor vehicles in Hong Kong, unlike those in mainland China, continue to drive on the left.
  8. Electrical plugs (BS1363), TV transmissions (PAL-I) and many other technical standards from the United Kingdom are still utilised in Hong Kong. However, telephone companies ceased installing British Standard BS 6312 telephone sockets in Hong Kong. HK also adopts the digital TV standard devised in mainland China. (Main article: Technical standards in colonial Hong Kong)
  9. Hong Kong retains a separate international dialling code (+852) and telephone numbering plan from that of the mainland. Calls between Hong Kong and the mainland still require international dialling.
  10. The former British military drill, marching and words of command in English continued in all disciplinary services including all civil organizations. The PLA soldiers of the Chinese Garrison in Hong Kong have their own drills and Mandarin words of command.
  11. All statues of British monarchs like Queen Victoria and King George remain.
  12. Road names like "Queen's Road", "King's Road" remain.
  1. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong is now elected by a selection committee with 800 members, who mainly are elected from among professional sectors and pro-Chinese business in Hong Kong. The Governor was appointed by the United Kingdom.
  2. All public offices now fly the flags of the PRC and the Hong Kong SAR. The Union Flag now flies only outside the British Consulate-General and other British premises.
  3. Queen Elizabeth II's portrait disappeared from banknotes, postage stamps and public offices. As of 2009, some pre-1997 coins and banknotes are still legal tenders and are in circulation.
  4. The 'Royal' title was dropped from almost all organisations that had been granted it, with the exception of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
  5. Legal references to the 'Crown' were replaced by references to the 'State', and barristers who had been appointed Queen's Counsel would now be known as Senior Counsel.
  6. A local honours system was introduced to replace the British honours system, with the Grand Bauhinia Medal replacing the Order of the British Empire.
  7. Public holidays changed, with the Queen's Official Birthday and other British-inspired occasions being replaced by PRC National Day and Hong Kong SAR Establishment Day.
  8. Many of the red Royal Mail pillar boxes were removed from the streets of Hong Kong and replaced by green Hongkong Post boxes. A few examples remain, but have been repainted.
  9. British citizens (without the right of abode) are no longer able to work in Hong Kong for one year without a visa; the policy was changed on 1 April 1997.
  10. Secondary education will move away from the English model of five years secondary schooling plus two years of university matriculation to the Chinese model of three years of junior secondary plus another three years of senior secondary. University education extends from three years to four.

Modern Hong Kong under China (post-1997 – present)

2000s

The new millennium signalled a series of events. A sizeable portion of the population that was previously against the handover found itself living with the adjustments. Article 23 became a controversy, and led to a marches in different parts of Hong Kong with as many as 750,000 people out of a population of approximately 6,800,000 at the time. The government also dealt with the SARS outbreak in 2003. A further health crisis, the Bird Flu Pandemic (H5N1) gained momentum from the late 90s, and led to the disposal of millions of chickens and other poultry. The slaughter put Hong Kong at the centre of global attention. At the same time, the economy tried to adjust fiscally. Within a short time, the political climate heated up and the Chief Executive position would be challenged culturally, politically and managerially. Hong Kong Disneyland was also launched during this period.

Hong Kong's skyline has continued to evolve, with two new skyscrapers dominating. The 415 meter (1,362 foot) tall, 88 storey Two International Finance Centre, completed in 2003, previously Hong Kong's tallest building, has been eclipsed by the 484 meter (1,588 foot) tall, 118 storey International Commerce Centre, which was topped-out in 2010. Nine additional skyscrapers over 250 meters (825 feet) have also been completed during this time. [1] The tallest building at the moment in Hong Kong is the ICC building, in West Kowloon.

See also

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Hong Kong portal

References

  1. ^ CIA gov. "CIA." HK GDP 2004. Retrieved on 6 March 2007.
  2. ^ Wiltshire, Trea. [First published 1987] (republished & reduced 2003). Old Hong Kong - Volume One. Central, Hong Kong: Text Form Asia books Ltd. ISBN Volume One 962-7283-59-2
  3. ^ Bickley, Gillian. [1997](1997). The Golden Needle: The Biography of Frederick Stewart (1836-1889). Hong Kong. ISBN 962-8027085
  4. ^ Lim, Patricia. [2002] (2002). Discovering Hong Hong's Cultural Heritage. Central, Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. ISBN Volume One 0-19-592723-0
  5. ^ [|Wordie, Jason] (2002). Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. pp. 74–75. ISBN 9622095631. http://www.amazon.com/Streets-Exploring-Hong-Kong-Island/dp/9622095631/ref=sr_11_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1214701525&sr=11-1. 
  6. ^ Wordie, Jason. [2002] (2002) Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962-2095631
  7. ^ Wiltshire, Trea. [First published 1987] (republished & reduced 2003). Old Hong Kong - Volume Three. Central, Hong Kong: Text Form Asia books Ltd. Page 12. ISBN Volume Three 962-7283-61-4
  8. ^ Starling, Arthur. [2006] (2006) Plague, SARS, and the Story of Medicine in Hong Kong. HK University Press. ISBN 9622098053
  9. ^ Buckley, Roger. [1997] (1997). Hong Kong: The Road to 1997 By Roger Buckley. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521469791

Further reading

  • Linda Butenhoff: Social movements and political reform in Hong Kong, Westport, Conn. [u.a.] : Praeger 1999, ISBN 0-275-96293-8

External links








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