Hong Kong (香港; "Fragrant Harbour"), officially Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is an autonomous territory on the southern coast of China at the Pearl River Estuary and the South China Sea. Hong Kong is known for its skyline and deep natural harbour. It has an area of 1104 km2 and shares its northern border with the Guangdong Province of Mainland China. With around 7.2 million Hongkongers of various nationalities, Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely populated metropolises.
After the First Opium War (1839–42), Hong Kong became a British colony with the perpetual cession of Hong Kong Island, followed by Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 and a 99-year lease of the New Territories from 1898. Hong Kong remained under British control for about a century until the Second World War, when Japan occupied the colony from December 1941 to August 1945. After the Surrender of Japan, the British resumed control. In the 1980s, negotiations between the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China resulted in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which provided for the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong on 30 June 1997. The territory became a special administrative region of China with a high degree of autonomy on 1 July 1997 under the principle of one country, two systems. Disputes over the perceived misapplication of this principle have contributed to popular protests, including the 2014 Umbrella Revolution.
In the late 1970s, Hong Kong became a major entrepôt in Asia-Pacific. The territory has developed into a major global trade hub and financial centre. The 44th-largest economy in the world, Hong Kong ranks top 10 in GDP (PPP) per capita, but also has the most severe income inequality among advanced economies. Hong Kong is one of the three most important financial centres alongside New York and London, and the world’s number one tourist destination city. The territory has been named the freest market economy. The service economy, characterised by free trade and low taxation, has been regarded as one of the world’s most laissez-faire economic policies, and the currency, the Hong Kong dollar, is the 13th most traded currency in the world.
The Hong Kong Basic Law empowers the region to develop relations and make agreements directly with foreign states and regions, as well as international organizations, in a broad range of appropriate fields. It is an independent member of APEC, the IMF, WTO, FIFA and International Olympic Committee among others.
Limited land created a dense infrastructure and the territory became a centre of modern architecture, and one of the world’s most vertical cities. Hong Kong has a highly developed public transportation network covering 90 per cent of the population, the highest in the world, and relies on mass transit by road or rail. Air pollution remains a serious problem. Loose emissions standards have resulted in a high level of atmospheric particulates. Nevertheless, Hongkongers enjoy the world’s longest or second longest life expectancies.
It is not known who was responsible for the Romanisation of the name "Hong Kong" but it is generally believed to be an early imprecise phonetic rendering of the pronunciation of the spoken Cantonese or Hakka name 香港, meaning "Fragrant Harbour". Before 1842, the name referred to a small inlet—now Aberdeen Harbour (香港仔, Sidney Lau: heung1gong2 jai2, Jyutping: hoeng1gong2 zai2, or Hiong1gong3 zai3 in a form of Hakka, literally means "Little Hong Kong")—between Aberdeen Island and the south side of Hong Kong Island, which was one of the first points of contact between British sailors and local fishermen. As those early contacts are likely to have been with Hong Kong’s early inhabitants, the Tankas (水上人), it is equally probable that the early Romanisation was a faithful execution of their speech, i.e. hong1, not heung1. Detailed and accurate Romanisation systems for Cantonese were available and in use at the time.
The reference to fragrance may refer to the sweet taste of the harbour’s fresh water estuarine influx of the Pearl River, or to the incense from factories, lining the coast to the north of Kowloon, which was stored near Aberdeen Harbour for export before the development of the Victoria Harbour.
In 1842, the Treaty of Nanking was signed and the name, Hong Kong, was first recorded on official documents to encompass the entirety of the island.
The name had often been written as the single word Hongkong until the government adopted the current form in 1926. Nevertheless, a number of century-old institutions still retain the single-word form, such as the Hongkong Post, Hongkong Electric and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.
The full official name, after 1997, is "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China". This is the official title as mentioned in the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Hong Kong Government’s website; however, "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region" and "Hong Kong" are widely accepted.
Hong Kong has carried many nicknames: the most famous among those is the "Pearl of the Orient", which reflected the impressive night-view of the city’s light decorations on the skyscrapers along both sides of the Victoria Harbour. The territory is also known as "Asia’s World City".
Archaeological studies support human presence in the Chek Lap Kok area (now Hong Kong International Airport) from 35,000 to 39,000 years ago and on Sai Kung Peninsula from 6,000 years ago.
Wong Tei Tung and Three Fathoms Cove are the earliest sites of human habitation in Hong Kong during the Paleolithic Period. It is believed that the Three Fathom Cove was a river-valley settlement and Wong Tei Tung was a lithic manufacturing site. Excavated Neolithic artefacts suggested cultural differences from the Longshan culture of northern China and settlement by the Che people, prior to the migration of the Baiyue (Viets) to Hong Kong. Eight petroglyphs, which dated to the Shang dynasty in China, were discovered on the surrounding islands.
In 214 BC, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, conquered the Baiyue tribes in Jiaozhi (modern Liangguang region and Vietnam) and incorporated the territory into imperial China for the first time. Modern Hong Kong was assigned to the Nanhai commandery (modern Nanhai District), near the commandery’s capital city Panyu. In Qin dynasty, the territory was ruled by Panyu County(番禺縣) up till Jin Dynasty.
The area of Hong Kong was consolidated under the kingdom of Nanyue (Southern Viet), founded by general Zhao Tuo in 204 BC after the collapse of the short-lived Qin dynasty. When the kingdom of Nanyue was conquered by the Han Dynasty in 111 BC, Hong Kong was assigned to the Jiaozhi commandery. Archaeological evidence indicates that the population increased and early salt production flourished in this time period. Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb on the Kowloon Peninsula is believed to have been built during the Han dynasty.
Started from Jin dynasty to early period of Tang dynasty, the territory that now comprises Hong Kong was governed by Bao’an County (寶安縣). In 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 a salt production centre, where the salt smugglers riots broke out against the government.
Under the Tang dynasty, the Guangdong (Canton) region flourished as a regional trading centre. In 736 AD, the first Emperor of Tang established a military stronghold in Tuen Mun in western Hong Kong to defend the coastal area of the region. The first village school, Li Ying College, was established around 1075 AD in the modern-day New Territories under the Northern Song dynasty. After their defeat by the Mongols, the Southern Song court briefly moved to modern-day Kowloon City (the Sung Wong Toi site), before its final defeat at the Battle of Yamen.
From the mid-Tang dynasty to early Ming dynasty, the territory that now comprises Hong Kong was governed by Dongguan County (東莞縣/ 東官縣). In Ming dynasty, the area was governed by Xin’an County (新安縣) before it was colonized by the British government. The indigenous inhabitants of what is now Hong Kong are identified with several ethnicities, including Punti, Hakka, Tanka) and Hoklo.
The earliest European visitor on record was Jorge Álvares, a Portuguese explorer who arrived in 1513. Having founded an establishment in Macau by 1557, Portuguese merchants began trading in southern China. However, subsequent military clashes between China and Portugal led to the expulsion of all Portuguese merchants from the rest of China.
In the mid-16th century, the Haijin order (closed-door, isolation policy) was enforced and it strictly forbade all maritime activities in order to prevent contact from foreigners by sea. From 1661 to 1669, Hong Kong was directly affected by the Great Clearance of the Kangxi Emperor, who required the evacuation of coastal areas of Guangdong. About 16,000 people from Hong Kong and Bao’an County were forced to emigrate inland; 1,648 of those who evacuated were said to have returned after the evacuation was rescinded in 1669.
BRITSH CROWN COLONY 1842–1941
In 1839, the refusal of Qing authorities to support opium imports caused the outbreak of the First Opium War between the British Empire and the Qing Empire. Qing’s defeat resulted in the occupation of Hong Kong Island by British forces on 20 January 1841. It was initially ceded under the Convention of Chuenpee, as part of a ceasefire agreement between Captain Charles Elliot and Governor Qishan. While a dispute between high-ranking officials of both countries led to the failure of the treaty’s ratification, on 29 August 1842, Hong Kong Island was formally ceded in perpetuity to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the Treaty of Nanking. The British officially established a Crown colony and founded the City of Victoria in the following year.
The population of Hong Kong Island was 7,450 when the Union Flag raised over Possession Point on 26 January 1841. It mostly consisted of Tanka fishermen and Hakka charcoal burners, whose settlements scattered along several coastal hamlets. In the 1850s, a large number of Chinese immigrants crossed the then-free border to escape from the Taiping Rebellion. Other natural disasters, such as flooding, typhoons and famine in mainland China would play a role in establishing Hong Kong as a place for safe shelter.
Further conflicts over the opium trade between Britain and Qing quickly escalated into the Second Opium War. Following the Anglo-French victory, the Crown Colony was expanded to include Kowloon Peninsula (south of Boundary Street) and Stonecutter’s Island, both of which were ceded to the British in perpetuity under the Convention of Beijing in 1860.
In 1898, Britain obtained a 99-year lease from Qing under the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, in which Hong Kong obtained a 99-year lease of the Lantau Island, the area north of Boundary Street in Kowloon up to Shenzhen River and over 200 other outlying islands.
Hong Kong soon became a major entrepôt thanks to its free port status, attracting new immigrants to settle from both China and Europe alike. The society, however, remained racially segregated and polarised under British colonial policies. Despite the rise of a British-educated Chinese upper-class by the late-19th century, race laws such as the Peak Reservation Ordinance prevented ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong from acquiring houses in reserved areas, such as the Victoria Peak. At this time, the majority of the Chinese population in Hong Kong had no political representation in the British colonial government. There were, however, a small number of Chinese elites whom the British governors relied on, such as Sir Kai Ho and Robert Hotung, who served as communicators and mediators between the government and local population.
Hong Kong continued to experience modest growth during the first half of the 20th century. The University of Hong Kong was established in 1911 as the territory’s oldest higher education institute. While there was an exodus of 60,000 residents for fear of a German attack on the British colony during the First World War, Hong Kong remained peaceful. Its population increased from 530,000 in 1916 to 725,000 in 1925 and reached 1.6 million by 1941.
In 1925, Cecil Clementi became the 17th Governor of Hong Kong. Fluent in Cantonese and without a need for translator, Clementi introduced the first ethnic Chinese, Shouson Chow, into the Executive Council as an unofficial member. Under his tenure, Kai Tak Airport entered operation as RAF Kai Tak and several aviation clubs. In 1937, the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out when the Japanese Empire expanded its territories from northeastern China into the mainland proper. To safeguard Hong Kong as a freeport, Governor Geoffry Northcote declared the Crown Colony as a neutral zone.
JAPANESE OCCUPATION 1941–45
As part of its military campaign in Southeast Asia during Second World War, the Japanese army moved south from Guangzhou of mainland China and attacked Hong Kong on 8 December 1941. The Battle of Hong Kong ended with the British and Canadian defenders surrendering control of Hong Kong to Japan on 25 December 1941 in what was regarded by locals as Black Christmas.
During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, the Japanese army committed atrocities against civilians and POWs, such as the St. Stephen’s College massacre. Local residents also suffered widespread food shortages, limited rationing and hyper-inflation arising from the forced exchange of currency from Hong Kong Dollars to Japanese military banknotes. The initial ratio of 2:1 was gradually devalued to 4:1 and ownership of Hong Kong Dollars was declared illegal and punishable by harsh torture. Due to starvation and forced deportation for slave labour to mainland China, the population of Hong Kong had dwindled from 1.6 million in 1941 to 600,000 in 1945, when Britain resumed control of the colony on 30 August 1945.
As one of the world’s leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation and free trade. The currency, Hong Kong dollar, is the eighth most traded currency in the world as of 2010. Hong Kong was once described by Milton Friedman as the world’s greatest experiment in laissez-faire capitalism, but has since instituted a regime of regulations including a minimum wage. It maintains a highly developed capitalist economy, ranked the freest in the world by the Index of Economic Freedom every year since 1995. It is an important centre for international finance and trade, with one of the greatest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region, and is known as one of the Four Asian Tigers for its high growth rates and rapid development from the 1960s to the 1990s. Between 1961 and 1997 Hong Kong’s gross domestic product grew 180 times while per-capita GDP increased 87 times over.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the seventh largest in the world and has a market capitalisation of US$2.3 trillion as of December 2009. In that year, Hong Kong raised 22 percent of worldwide initial public offering (IPO) capital, making it the largest centre of IPOs in the world and the easiest place to raise capital. The Hong Kong dollar has been pegged to the US dollar since 1983.
The Hong Kong Government has traditionally played a mostly passive role in the economy, with little by way of industrial policy and almost no import or export controls. Market forces and the private sector were allowed to determine practical development. Under the official policy of "positive non-interventionism", Hong Kong is often cited as an example of laissez-faire capitalism. Following the Second World War, Hong Kong industrialised rapidly as a manufacturing centre driven by exports, and then underwent a rapid transition to a service-based economy in the 1980s. Since then, it has grown to become a leading centre for management, financial, IT, business consultation and professional services.
Hong Kong matured to become a financial centre in the 1990s, but was greatly affected by the Asian financial crisis in 1998, and again in 2003 by the SARS outbreak. A revival of external and domestic demand has led to a strong recovery, as cost decreases strengthened the competitiveness of Hong Kong exports and a long deflationary period ended. Government intervention, initiated by the later colonial governments and continued since 1997, has steadily increased, with the introduction of export credit guarantees, a compulsory pension scheme, a minimum wage, anti-discrimination laws, and a state mortgage backer.
The territory has little arable land and few natural resources, so it imports most of its food and raw materials. Imports account for more than 90% of Hong Kong’s food supply, including nearly all of the meat and rice available there. Agricultural activity – relatively unimportant to Hong Kong’s economy and contributing just 0.1% of its GDP – primarily consists of growing premium food and flower varieties. Hong Kong is the world’s eleventh largest trading entity, with the total value of imports and exports exceeding its gross domestic product. It is the world’s largest re-export centre. Much of Hong Kong’s exports consist of re-exports, which are products made outside of the territory, especially in mainland China, and distributed via Hong Kong. Its physical location has allowed the city to establish a transportation and logistics infrastructure that includes the world’s second busiest container port and the world’s busiest airport for international cargo. Even before the transfer of sovereignty, Hong Kong had established extensive trade and investment ties with the mainland, which now enable it to serve as a point of entry for investment flowing into the mainland. At the end of 2007, there were 3.46 million people employed full-time, with the unemployment rate averaging 4.1% for the fourth straight year of decline. Hong Kong’s economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for over 90% of its GDP, while industry constitutes 9%. Inflation was at 2.5% in 2007. Hong Kong’s largest export markets are mainland China, the United States, and Japan.
As of 2010 Hong Kong is the eighth most expensive city for expatriates, falling from fifth position in the previous year. Hong Kong is ranked fourth in terms of the highest percentage of millionaire households, behind Switzerland, Qatar, and Singapore with 8.5 percent of all households owning at least one million US dollars. Hong Kong is also ranked second in the world by the most billionaires per capita (one per 132,075 people), behind Monaco. In 2011, Hong Kong was ranked second in the Ease of Doing Business Index, behind Singapore.
Hong Kong is ranked No. 1 in the world in the Crony Capitalism Index by the Economist.
In 2014, Hong Kong was the eleventh most popular destination for international tourists among countries and territories worldwide, with a total of 27.8 million visitors contributing a total of US$38,376 million in international tourism receipts. Hong Kong is also the most popular city for tourists, nearly two times of its nearest competitor Macau.
The territory’s population in mid-2015 is 7.30 million, with an average annual growth rate of 0.8% over the previous 5 years. The current population of Hong Kong comprises 91% ethnic Chinese. A major part of Hong Kong’s Cantonese-speaking majority originated from the neighbouring Guangdong province, from where many fled during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War, and the communist rule in China.
Residents of the Mainland do not automatically receive the Right of Abode, and many may not enter the territory freely. Like other non-natives, they may apply for the Right of Abode after seven years of continuous residency. Some of the rights may also be acquired by marriage (e.g., the right to work), but these do not include the right to vote or stand for office. However, the influx of immigrants from mainland China, approximating 45,000 per year, is a significant contributor to its population growth – a daily quota of 150 Mainland Chinese with family ties in Hong Kong are granted a "one way permit". Life expectancy in Hong Kong is 81.2 years for males and 86.9 years for females as of 2014, making it the highest life expectancy in the world.
About 91% of the people of Hong Kong are of Chinese descent, the majority of whom are Taishanese, Chiu Chow, other Cantonese people, and Hakka. Hong Kong’s Han majority originate mainly from the Guangzhou and Taishan regions in Guangdong province. The remaining 6.9% of the population is composed of non-ethnic Chinese. There is a South Asian population of Indians, Pakistanis and Nepalese; some Vietnamese refugees have become permanent residents of Hong Kong. There are also Britons, Americans, Canadians, Japanese, and Koreans working in the city’s commercial and financial sector. In 2011, 133,377 foreign domestic helpers from Indonesia and 132,935 from the Philippines were working in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s de facto official language is Cantonese, a variety of Chinese originating from Guangdong province to the north of Hong Kong. English is also an official language, and according to a 1996 by-census is spoken by 3.1 percent of the population as an everyday language and by 34.9 percent of the population as a second language. Signs displaying both Chinese and English are common throughout the territory. Since the 1997 Handover, an increase in immigrants from communist China and greater interaction with the mainland’s economy have brought an increasing number of Mandarin speakers to Hong Kong.
A majority of residents of Hong Kong have no religious affiliation, professing a form of agnosticism or atheism. According to the US Department of State 43 percent of the population practices some form of religion. Some figures put it higher, according to a Gallup poll, 64% of Hong Kong residents do not believe in any religion, and possibly 80% of Hong Kong claim no religion. In Hong Kong teaching evolution won out in curriculum dispute about whether to teach other explanations, and that creationism and intelligent design will form no part of the senior secondary biology curriculum.
Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of religious freedom, guaranteed by the Basic Law. Hong Kong’s main religions are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism; a local religious scholar in contact with major denominations estimates there are approximately 1.5 million Buddhists and Taoists. A Christian community of around 833,000 forms about 11.7% of the total population; Protestants forms a larger number than Roman Catholics at a rate of 4:3, although smaller Christian communities exist, including the Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Anglican and Roman Catholic churches each freely appoint their own bishops, unlike in mainland China. There are also Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Bahá’í communities. The practice of Falun Gong is tolerated.
Statistically Hong Kong’s income gap is the greatest in Asia Pacific. According to a report by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 2008, Hong Kong’s Gini coefficient, at 0.53, was the highest in Asia and "relatively high by international standards". However, the government has stressed that income disparity does not equate to worsening of the poverty situation, and that the Gini coefficient is not strictly comparable between regions. The government has named economic restructuring, changes in household sizes, and the increase of high-income jobs as factors that have skewed the Gini coefficient.
Tagged: , Hongkong , Skyline , asienman-videography