EARLY COLONIAL HONG KONG

 There is controversy if there is a possible ancient

Hong Kong history.  China claims it is, although they have not undertaken the task.  England claims it isn’t but has researched to write about the modern one.  Richard Hughes even wrote that Hong Kong was a “borrowed place living on borrowed land” that “did not exist, so it was necessary to invent it”.

 Hong Kong was not a mere barren rock island that

many British historians have claimed it was before the colonial times.  There have been archeological discoveries that have been dated down to 4000 b. C., that means the Neolithic era.  According to Chinese historical records, Part of southern India, which would comprehend Hong Kong, was inhabited by the Hundred Yue Tribes.

 These tribes were actually descendants of other ones in

Malasi, Vietnam and Polynesia. They were, therefore, not Han Chinese (The ethnic majority in China).  Hong Kong had been ruled by the Yue Kingdom of the south until 111 b. C.  The Yues were dethroned by the army of Wu Di, who belonged to the Han dynasty.  It is to be mentioned that there was a strange form of historical progress discontinuity due to the constant migrations from north to south China and backwards that obeyed to economy.

 Therefore it cannot be claimed that Hong Kong

was always an important part of Chinese history.  Its mentioning in historical ancient records reduce themselves to anecdotes such as when the emperor of the Southern Sing dynasty sought refuge in Kowloon from the Mongolic invasions.

Other facts found
 During the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1276 – 1368)

Hong Kong was inhabited by farmers, fishermen, pirates. By the end of the Yan Dynasty, the island was ruled de facto (economically) by seven families, all of them tenants.  During the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) Kowloon got settled by peoples coming from Guangdong and Fujian, two of the most important coastal provinces in southeastern China.

 During the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), as the

Manchus ruled China, Hong Kong fiunally was integrated to the Chinese inter-regional life. Its harbors began being used by merchants and fishermen from other regions.  It was known to be a part of a country named Xinan and had protocol relations with Kowloon with whom it had a tributary obligation.  During the early 1800’s it serves as a shelter for a legendary character, the Pirate Zang Baozai.

The Western comes
 The British control was not the beginning of European


colonization rather than its conclusion. The European expansion in China began at times even before anywhere else in the world and lasted until the end of WWI. The first contacts from which there is a record date from the epochs of the Tuan and Yuan Dynasties (618 – 907) via the (famous) Silk Road. The contact increased during the Mongolian ruling (known as the Pax Mongolica), because these were eager to trade with Europeans. Some western men were even hired by the court. In 1300, after the fall of the Mongolic Dynasty Yuan, the contact abruptly ceased.

 The contacts began again in during the 1500’s

thanks to the Portuguese incursions into Asia.  The Portuguese helped Chinese rulers to cmbat piracy and were rewarded the right to commerce along the southern Chinese coast. It was, however, a strategy of the Emperor to stop them from moving inland.  The Portuguese established a permanent commercial base in Macau (Macao) which soon became the center of inter-economic trade, it became a “hemispheric exchange of commodities”.

 Macao, logically, became as well the door for

Christianity into China.  It was not until the 1600’s when Britain began to be a competitor with Portugal and the Netherlands in matters of world trading.  In 1654, the Portuguese allowed the British East India company to land in Macau.  By 1684, after the prohibition to trade with foreigners was banned, the British used Macau as their main trading port, from which they sailed to Huangpu (Whampoa) which is ten miles away from Canton.

The Qing
 The Qing Dynasty played a major role in the inclusion of the

British in Hong Kong.
 1771 The British were granted a concession to open a post in

Canton that was actually the only place where it was legal to trade with foreigners after a decree issued in 1759 during the Qing Dynasty.  Under what is known as the Canton or Cohong (meaning: authorized companies) system, The trade in China was conducted by groups of merchants houses known as the hongs.  The foreigners could trade in Canton from October to March, while from April to September, they sailed toward other places like Macau.

 The earnings while trading silk, porcelain, tea and

opium were very rewarding and compensated for all the restrictions.  By 1840, about 100 British companies were already trading in the southern coast of China.  Because of this reason, British colonization in China is seen not as a territorial expansion but as a safety measure for the economic interests of the Crown.  In their own words:

 “Hong Kong was occupied not with view of

colonization, but for diplomatic, cxommercial and military purposes” (Lord Stanley, Secretary for the Colonies -1843-).  “A healthy trade demanded settled conditios, suppression of robbery, guarantee of contract and of imparcial justice. Since the Chinese were thiught to be unable to provide these conditions, the British had to provide them. Tis is fundamental to understanding any history of Hoing Kong” (G. B. Endacott -1970-)

 That these sort of statements were some how true,

can be seen in the facts that theBritish neither assimilated the Chinese nor Christianized them.

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