An Illustrated History of Hong Kong 9780195849974

As the British rule in Hong Kong draws to a close after a century and a half, the colony remains one of the most vital a

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An Illustrated History of Hong Kong
 9780195849974

Table of contents :
CONTENTS......Page 11
LIST OF COLOUR PLATES......Page 13
LIST OF MAPS AND FIGURES......Page 14
Introduction......Page 15
1. The Origins of Confrontation......Page 18
2. First Clashes......Page 31
3. The Treaty of Nanjing......Page 40
4. Early Hong Kong......Page 46
5. Governor Davis — One against All......Page 58
6. Early Victoria — Fabric and Society......Page 69
7. Governor Bonham......Page 81
8. Bowring's War with China......Page 89
9. Consolidation under Robinson......Page 104
10. The Growth of Chinese Institutions, and the Problems of Education......Page 125
11. Macdonnell and the Lawless 'Depot'......Page 141
12. Colonial Appeasement......Page 151
13. Mr Hennessy 's Proceedings......Page 160
14. Public Health, and the Blockade......Page 174
15. Constitutional Reform, and the Legalization of Opium......Page 186
16. Plague, and the New Territories Acquired......Page 202
17. The First Two Decades of the New Century......Page 227
18. Inter-war Years — the Twenties......Page 246
19. Inter-war Years — the Thirties......Page 267
20. Invasion and Occupation......Page 280
21. Rehabilitation and Transformation......Page 295
22. Population, Housing, and Education......Page 310
23. Growth of an Industrial Giant......Page 323
24. Corruption and the ICAC......Page 336
25. Final Years......Page 350
NOTES......Page 357
APPENDIX 1......Page 363
APPENDIX 2......Page 364
APPENDIX 5......Page 365
APPENDIX 7......Page 366
APPENDIX 8......Page 367
APPENDIX 10......Page 368
APPENDIX 11......Page 371
BIBLIOGRAPHY......Page 372
GLOSSARY......Page 376
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS......Page 377
INDEX......Page 378

Citation preview

AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF

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In a period of about one hundred and fifty years as a British colony, Hong Kong has grown from an uninviting collection of sparsely populated islands to become one of the manufacturing, commercial, and finan­ cial centres of the world, with a population nearing six million. This is a remarkable achievement in any context. The history of Hong Kong is as dynamic as its economic and social achievements, and a fresh examination of that history is long overdue. Previous studies of the history of Hong Kong have seen events largely through Western eyes. This important new assess­ ment makes use of Chinese sources, where these are available, and presents a very dif­ ferent perspective on th½'nterplay between the Chinese and WesJ�1ners who have shaped the development of Hong Kong. Within a ,broadly chronological frame­ work, a narrative history of wide-ranging scope Uf!folds - sweeping from prehistoric times tc the .1.98�s, when Hong Kong began preparing-.for the resumption of Chinese sov­ ereignty in 1997. Enlivened by character studies of many of �he.significant and colour­ ful figures in Hong Kong's past and illu­ minated by a fascinating selection of illustra­ tions, this authoritative volume will appeal to general readers, students, and scholars. The book contains over one hundred and tvventy _jlh.1str2i��� } of \vhich twe�ty-four are colour plate:;. 1'.1any of these illustra­ tions are published here f9r the first time. In addition there are maps, a glossary, and a comprehensive bibliography.

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AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF HONG KONG

·

AN

ILLUSTRATED · HISTORY OF

HONG KONG NIGEL CAMERON

Hong Kong

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS Oxford

New York

1991

Oxford University Press Oxford New York Toronto Petaling ]aya Singapore Hong Kong Tokyo Delhi Bombay Calcutta Madras Karachi Nairobi Dar es Salaam Cape Town Melbourne Auckland and associated companies in Berlin Ibadan

© Oxford University Press r99r All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Oxford University Press 'Oxford' is a trade mark of Oxford University Press First published r99r Published in the United States by Oxford University Press, Inc., New York British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Cameron, Nigel An illustrated history of Hong Kong. r. Hong Kong, history I. Title 95r.25 ISBN o-r9-584997-3 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Cameron, Nigel. An illustrated history of Hong Kong I Nigel Cameron. cm. p. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN o-r9-584997-3 : $45.00 (est.) r. Hong Kong-History. I. Title. DS796.H757C36 r99r 95r.25-dc20 90-48787 CIP

Printed in Hong Kong by Elite Printing Co., Ltd. Published by Oxford University Press, Warwick House, Hong Kong

IN AFFECTIONATE MEMORY OF IRENE JOYCE (JO) BOSTON (1909-1989)

CONTENTS

r. 2.

/'3· 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. ro. rr. 12. 13. 14 . 15. 16. 17 .

List of Colour Plates List of Maps and Figures

ix

INTRODUCTION THE ORIGINS OF CONFRONTATION FIRST CLASHES THE TREATY OF NANJING EARLY HONG KONG GOVERNOR DAVIS - ONE AGAINST ALL EARLY VICTORIA - FABRIC AND SOCIETY GOVERNOR BONHAM BOWRING'S WAR WITH CHINA CONSOLIDATION UNDER ROBINSON THE GROWTH OF CHINESE INSTITUTIONS, AND THE PROBLEMS OF EDUCATION MACDONNELL AND THE LAWLESS 'DEPOT' COLONIAL APPEASEMENT MR HENNESSY'S PROCEEDINGS PUBLIC HEALTH, AND THE BLOCKADE CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM, AND THE LEGALIZATION OF OPIUM PLAGUE, AND THE NEW TERRITORIES ACQUIRED THE 'FIRST TWO DECADES OF THE NEW CENTURY

r

x

4 17 26 32 44 55 67 75 90 103 119 129 138 152 164 180 205

v111

Contents

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

INTER-WAR YEARS - THE TWENTIES INTER-WAR YEARS - THE THIRTIES INVASION AND OCCUPATION REHABILITATION AND TRANSFORMATION POPULATION, HOUSING, AND EDUCATION GROWTH OF AN INDUSTRIAL GIANT CORRUPTION AND THE ICAC FINAL YEARS

224 237 250 265 280 293 306 320

Notes Appendices Bibliography Glossary Acknowledgements Index

3 27 333 342 346 347 348

LIST OF COLOUR PLATES (Between pp. Io2 and Io3) An East India Company officer, c. 1800 (Martyn Gregory) Tea being packed for sale to Western merchants, late eighteenth century (Martyn Gregory) Opium ships at Lingding Island, 18 24 (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd.) A street in Guangzhou, 1838 (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd.) A view of the Guangzhou factories, c. 18 50 (Martyn Gregory) Admiral Sir William Parker, Commander-in-Chief, who arrived in Macau in 1841 (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd.) Howqua, the senior Chinese merchant in Guangzhou, c.1830-40 (Martyn Gregory) A young Chinese merchant at Guangzhou, early nineteenth century (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd.) Commissioner Lin, c.1840 (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd.) View of Macau, prior to 1844 (Martyn Gregory) Possibly the earliest oil painting of Hong Kong island (The Asian Collector Ltd., Hong Kong) The opium clipper, Red Rover, undated (Martyn Gregory) Two medals awarded to Sir Henry Pottinger (Christie's) (Between pp. 230 and 23I) Jardine's East Point offices and godowns, 1844 (Martyn Gregory) The residence of the Lieutenant-Governor, Major-General D'Aguilar, in Hong Kong, 1840s (Hong Kong Museum of Art) Chinese nursemaids and their charges, r8 56 (Christie's) Happy Valley racecourse and the colonial cemetery, late 1840s (Martyn Gregory) Spring Gardens, Hong Kong, 1846 (Martyn Gregory) Sir Boshan Wei Yuk, a wealthy business man, early twentieth century (Christie's) A crowd on the way to the races, 18 58 (Christie's) A street stall and its patrons, south China, 1839 (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd.) Hong Kong coolies, mid-nineteenth century (The Asian Collector Ltd., Hong Kong) Races at the C,anton Regatta Club, 18 50s (Martyn Gregory) The north shore of Hong Kong island, 1989 (Frank Fischbeck)

LIST OF MAPS AND FIGURES Front endpaper 6 13 3. Victoria in 184 5 and 1848 59 4. Plan of a typical tenement house, built before 1903 154 154 5. Plan of the first floor of a wealthy Chinese house, nineteenth century 192 6. The map attached to the Convention between Great Britain and China, 1898 258 7. The defensive line and the routes of the Japanese attack on Hong Kong Back endpaper Reclamation and development in Hong Kong

The Territory of Hong Kong 1. A plan of Guangzhou 2. The geographical setting of the opium trade

Introduction

l_N the year 1997 when Hong Kang re¥.erts to Chinese sovereignty, ? mm one hundred and fifty-six years will have elapsed since it became a British _possession. What was then an insignificant mountainous scattering of larger and smaller coastal islands in the South China Sea, the haunt of pirates, the refuge of occasional storm-blown fishermen, peopled by several hundred resident fishers and farmers, changed in a few years into a small, bustling, striving, and strident Victorian seaport of the Orient. A war with China gave it birth, its other parent being the Western passion for trade. Further wars between the British and the Chinese, basically over that unruly and headlong passion, were to shape Hong Kong's society, while the flux of trade itself conditioned its thinking as well as the physical form of Victoria, its main settlement. As other ports opened to Western trade up and down the China coast, the fledgling colony faltered but persevered, attaining its apparently final form by the first decade of the twentieth century. The First World War did not deeply affect its fortunes, or greatly alter its outlook or position in the world. By the outbreak of World War II, Hong Kong was little different from the colony of 1910. But this second world conflict ended the colony's life under a brutal Japanese occupation that lasted three years until the tide turned and the British returned, uncertain colonists in a now anti-colonial Orient. Within a decade of the war's end the Hong Kong of the past was embarked on a curious process of change and development. This process was so unusual in an apparently adult city that it took most Hong Kong people_ by surprise. The 1949 revolution in China served as the catalyst initiating this unexpected development; the post-war economic climate and the revolution in industrial processes encouraged and continued it. An entirely different colonial entity emerged - modern Hong Kong, a city haphazardly grown into one of the commercial, industrial, and financial giants of the world. The last part of Hong Kong's colonial history constitutes the period of its real significance in the world. In this, Hong Kong is unlike most places where growth usually follows a more predictable pattern. Gradual decline from greatness is' a more usual picture than that of dramatic rebirth.

2

An Illustrated History of Hong Kong

Historically, Hong Kong is a distinctly odd place. Lack.ing_a.JuckgrouncloJ gQrmal, logical progression to eventual maturity, iL_turned from a__w_r.t_o.f fixed colonial adolescence to an adult state of a genetically improbable kind. The huge success of tbis new entity imbues it with a quality as unique as it is elusive of description. The story and significance of Hong Kong, more than that of most cities (or city-states as in some ways it may be seen), is to be sought primarily in early nineteenth-century economic thrust and later in the effects of economic and political upheavals in China. Hong Kong's belated economic success is due in essence to post-World War II capitalist drive and a massive influx of Chinese refugees who became its manpower. In successful combination those factors forged the Hong Kong of today. Equally, they are contributing factors in the coming demise of the territory as a separate political entity in 1997. In his history of Hong Kong, first published in 19 5 8, the late G. B. Endacott opens the first chapter with the following sentence: 'Hong Kong is a British colony situated on the South-east coast of China. ' ft is a measure of the profound changuo status of the place that today, thirty years op, virtually no one in the world who can read a newspaper any longer needs to t heof_ fered :hat pie�oLinfo-rmation. Many of them may in fil�Ct be wearing clothe_s Qr listening to_a_radiQJ llade in Hm:!g Kong. From the barely emerging industrial_entity_clescrib�d_by Endacon, an astonishin_gly different Hong Kong ha� �loomed. ts future, cloudy and disregarded in those early dayS-OLth� communist reyolution in China, js.-11ow°ap_proacliing-SomethingJike clarity. As its term draws near and the treaty with China terminates Britain's lease in 1997, we shall see the final close of a colourful period. In the light of those facts, one of the periodic updatings which the passage of time and the press of events requires in considering the history of any place would seem due for Hong Kong. It was still possible in 19 5 8 to regard colonial possessions - those which had not by then been surrendered to their indigenous peoples - with a certain glow of nostalgic pride as Britain relin­ quished them and their (in colonial terms) insurmountable problems. That opinion is largely unacceptable now. Thirty years on, whatever our personal view may be of colonialism, it can scarcely be identical with that current in the climate of political opinion of 19 5 8. The intervening years have, among myriad other transformations, cast Hong Kong in a role of some significance in the world context, a position it did not then hold. In those three decades major shifts in political thought have taken place, and the perspective we now apply to the scene has sharply altered. Reason enough for a retelling of the story. However tempting a pastime it may be, gazing into a crystal ball has little relevance in a history, and it requires no clairvoyant faculty to see, and no great courage to admit, that whatever the state of affairs afreLthe-c� return to China in 1997 a s_tate of affairs promised bx the Chinese to -----

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Introduction 3 remain unchanged far 50 years - a great city which will have passed from the hands of a_�_e_stern democracy to those of Chinese socialism will be ratfier l!__nlikely to continue as the same sort of organism for__y_ery long. What H..ong Kong_wilIJiecome...._ after-1--9-aged....a s its third state. It is with the first two historical states of the colony, the pre�dustrial and the industrial, that this volume attempts to deal. 1

I.

The Origins of Confrontation

HONG KONG was from the very beginning a unique colony. Unlike other lands when the British took them, it was sparsely populated, an island (in the guess of the government Gazette of May r 84 r) of some 7,4 5 o villagers and fishermen. It had not a semblance of mineral wealth, its terrain was mostly mountainous with little flat land, and there was scarcely- a tre·e, far less any­ thing that might be called a forest. As the British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston put the matter, in high disgust at the choice, Hong Kong was a 'barren island with hardly a house upon it'. No teeming populace awaited the chance of British employment on plantations or other enterprises, no great river .flooded down from some rich hinterland. The local Chinese eked out a paltry living from tiny rice paddies squeezed into valleys, by keeping chickens I and a few pigs, and by fishing the local waters. Pirates, indigenous to the j China coasts, perched now and then between raids like predators in this or that secluded cove. It was an altogether insignificant place. The reason for the taking of Hong .Kong - that understood by British merchants of the time and only partially comprehended by Lord Palmerston in England - was the need to secure a land base from which they could conduct their business of purveying to China the illegal import opium. For this trade they required only a sheltered deep-water harbour for their ships and a strip of shore for their 'factories', 1 as trading stations were then named. They took Hong Kong as they had taken other places, by force of arms. A small force, admittedly, but deployed without the consent of the rightful owners, the Chinese imperial government. There is some slight room for doubt, indeed, whether the choice of Hong Kong island was entirely a British one. E. J. Eitel, a civil servant in Hong Kong whose book Europe in China is a history of the colony's first half century, hints at this. It is conceivable at least that the cunning Qishan, Viceroy of Chili, with whom Captain Elliot negotiated for a base, made the suggestion. Guangzhou, seat of the provincial governor of Guangdong Province, was a mere day's sailing west and up the Zhu Jiang (the Pearl River), and from there it would be simple, in theory at least, to keep an eye on the barbarian colonists and their activities - which, after all, were principally the importation of opium up that same river to

The Origins of Confrontation

5

Guangzhou, the sole port at which the Chinese countenanced trade with foreigners. Eitel, who knew personally many of those who participated in the founding of Hong Kong, allows the possibility of Qishan's influence. One of the fundamentals of Chinese policy towards commercial contacts with non-Chinese peoples, applying equally to tribes from Central Asia and to foreigners who came in ships to its coasts - a policy initiated as long ago as the Ming dynasty - laid down the principle that trade was a privilege granted by a beneficent emperor to the inhabitants of the less desirable regions of the world. To trade with the Chinese could in no sense be con­ sidered a right. Conversely, one of the fundamentals of Western thought was, and is, that to trade with those, no matter where, who are willing to purchase and to sell is the natural right of all men. It was the inevitable contradiction enshrined in those opinions which lay at the root of the history of relationships between the West and China, from the very firs_uim_e._a_W--este.t.lLille!chant, a Portuguese, arrived at Guangzhou in September _1 5 1 7 with the seri�o trade. In fact, the Portuguese ships managed to trade peacefully and returned to Malacca from where they had come, their captain 'loaded with riches and renown'. And Macau, establis�e_sl by t�e_Portl!gufse �iny peninsula at the mouth of the Zhu Jiang; was ceded to-Portugual in 1 5 5 7 - one result of the banning of direct trade between China and Japan, -after which the Portuguese fleet of merchantmen became the prime carriers of that commerce in place of the Chinese. Trade restrictions imposed in the Ming dynasty, and in the early Qing (which succeeded it in 1 644), were eased by the late seventeenth century, and foreign vessels called at Xiamen, Fuzhou, and Ningbo. Later, restrictions were reintroduced and British attempts to claim old trading privileges in 1 7 5 5 met with resistance. Under the Qianlong emperor (1 7 3 6 - 9 5 ) trade was virtually confined to Guangzhou. It was this restriction, imposed by the Chinese in an attempt to ward off the aggressive attentions of stubborn foreign merchants, and to stem the outflow of silver from the treasury to pay for opium imports, which proved to be one of the principal precipitating causes of what came later to be termed the century of Western aggression and dominance in China. Guangzhou was to remain the sole legal port where trading was permitted from 1 7 5 7 until the forcible opening of Nanjing by the British under the 1. terms of what the Chinese justifiably call the First Unequal Treaty of 1 842. British trade with China has a much shorter history than that of the Portuguese. It wa.s not until the mid-eighteenth century that the major part of Western trade with China came to be in British hands, and this was very largely because of the proximity of India. The sub-continent acted as a staging post on lengthy voyages to and from China and was, more importantly, a source of some of the goods which were carried in ever larger quantities to' China in British ships.

6 An Illustrated History of Hong Kong

The monopoly of British trade with China was held by the British East India Company whose principal cargo was the tea to which the British public was so deeply addicted. Other goods from China - porcelain among them were carried, but tea was the mainstay, the company gradually permitting other merchants to handle other goods. The Chinese, in an effort to regulate trade and to profit by it, had long ago designated a group of merchants in Guangzhou through whom foreign trade was exclusively channelled. This group, called by the British the Co-hong, was required by the authorities in Beijing to pay large sums of money for this privilege. They in turn extracted it from foreign traders in the form of taxes levied by the Guangzhou Maritime Customs with a severity and stringency which varied from time to time in an arbitrary manner. erOl'IT

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