The People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China Tour 3: Hong Kong (Special Zone)
Hong Kong was a product of imperialism. While the area served as a major port under the Sung, as they moved south to escape the Mongols, with an emperor even crowned on Lantua island, it was relativley unimportant. Residents lived by pearl-diving, fishing, and salt production. Under the Ching, Hong Kong was a military outpost.
When China was forced to sign the treaty of Peking, it ceded, among other places, Hong Kong, which the British were to hold until 1997. Thi was to repay the British for the destructioon of opium endured by its merchants. British firms used Hong Kong as a treaty port and middleground for the China trade (including selling them dope), and the Chinese population grew to serve this port function. European civilization, albeit mixed with Chinese, cmae to the island. It was an important enough port that the Japanese invaded it immediatly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Hong Kong's character changed in the decased between 1946 and 1997 in two ways. First, the island became in and of itself an important manufacturing center, one of the little "Tigers," along with South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, etc. Then, for a long time it became an indirection means of access to Chinese consumers and, especially since 1978, Chinese products, re-exported via Hong Kong.
In 1997, the British, their treated to occuppy the New Terroritories, returned Hong Kong to China under the promise of "One country, two systems." The British belatedly gave the Kongers self-government and a democratic (not colonial) system, which the Chinese were supposed to continue along with not interfering with the Hong Kong free market economy.
When I visited, indeed Hong Kong was prosperous, so prosperous that China still needed to regulate immigration into this part of its country. The Hong Kongers, however, were complaining that the Chinese were not giving them the freedom they expected in a number of little ways. Still, though many Kongers bought second, fall-back, homes elsewhere, they had not fled in the thousands. Beijing was touting the "one-country, two systems" as a model for Taiwan's reattachment to China.
I first visited Hong Kong during the New Year's break in the Taiwanese and PRC public schools. This may explain why there were no hotels or, basically, no anything, but lots of bodies. Everything, it appeared, was on sale. When I passed through Hong Kong as part of my visa acquisition to go to Beijing, the city was, yet again, overcrowded, non-working, and onholid. They explained to methat, this time, it was due to the two month school holidays, to which I famous responded, "Don't you Kongers ever stop partying?".New York may be the city tht never sleeps, but Hong Kong seems to be the city that never works!
Related Chinese Tours: Back to Tour 2: Nanjing