29 Oct History of Hong Kong
Hong Kong has always been a place filled with paradoxes, diffusion of culture, and a certain uniqueness that can only come from such a city. In order to understand the society and even the business culture of Hong Kong, it is important to know the complex history of such a unique and powerful city. It is due to Hong Kong’s exceptional history that it has become known as one of the world’s greatest economic centers and as one of the “Four Asian Tigers,” which also include Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea.
A lot of how Hong Kong runs today is influenced by the 150+ years of British occupation, which only ended just recently in 1997, during the Handover of 1997, when both China and Britain basically agreed to leave Hong Kong as semi-independent region. Although officially a part of China, Hong Kong is autonomous in various aspects of governance including the practice of capitalistic economic business enterprises (as opposed to communism in mainland China), the operation of courts under the British Common Law system (as opposed to China’s civil law), and a whole lot of other things including education and welfare systems. The two things blatantly not under Hong Kong governance is the operation of a military, and foreign affairs.
Today, Hong Kong is officially known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, and is run under the policy of “one country, two systems,” which allows for these differences in governance between China and Hong Kong. Although declared autonomous, Hong Kong’s political leaders running for election still need to be pre-approved by the Chinese government party, which has caused a sort of outrage and protest in Hong Kong over the issue of representation.
The history of modern Hong Kong begins with the First Opium War fought between China and Britain over control of Hong Kong as an international trading post, and in 1841, Hong Kong was taken over, was officially under British colonial rule and part of the British colonies where it developed into a cosmopolitan city. Because of Hong Kong’s quick rise to economic prosperity, due to British capitalism, it was often targeted by Chinese mainland immigrants as a place to escape the trials and turmoil of China as it underwent the Taiping Rebellion, the Chinese Civil War, and the Cultural Revolution.
Although it did have its bout of misfortune during the Japanese occupation during World War II (1941-45). During this short period, there was massive population loss going from 1.6 million to nearly 600,000. However, Hong Kong recovered quickly after the resumption of British rule and gained back its foothold as an economic giant.
Throughout history, Hong Kong has been a center of worldly influences and a place where East meets West cultures combine and make something truly different than anywhere else. This is why Hong Kong natives usually do not refer to themselves as strictly Chinese and prefer to call themselves, Hong Kongers, or Hong Kong Chinese. Today Hong Kong is still a place full of paradoxes, a place with the largest income inequality, but with the highest GDP per capita in the world. That is Hong Kong, the New York of the East.