To talk about Hong Kong history, we need to trace it quite a while back. Below is my attempt to make it as short and simple as possible…
China has always been a “multi-ethnicity country”. Han has traditionally be the ruler of China (of course the other “countries” in China are ruled by various ethnic leaders) – this is a very complicated subject, and this English website and this Chinese page show the map of China in all dynasty in history.
Now let’s look Ming and Qing.
Wu San-kuei (or Wu Sangui), a military general of the Ming empire was the direct cause of the fall of the Ming dynasty. Based on history, his obsession over his concubine, Chen YuanYuan, was the fundamental reason that he betrayed the Ming emperor.
Long story short, Wu opened the gate for the Qing army, resulting the end of Ming. Great Qing (大清), the last imperial dynasty of China, was established in 1644 by Manchu people.
Qing enjoyed a long period of prosperity, and the reigns of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723–1735) and his son, the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796), marked the height of the Qing Dynasty’s power. During this period, the Qing Empire ruled over 13 million square kilometres of territory. However, towards the end of the Qing dynasty, the corruption and general addiction to opium caused enormous problem to China. The long-term weakness led Qing dynasty to an end.
During the Opium Wars, the Qing government signed multiple treaties with the western world – China calls these treaties “unequal treaties” till this very day (a personal note: I agree that there’s nothing for the western world to be proud of, but I cannot agree that these treaties are unfair. Let me quote a Chinese saying 勝者為王，敗者為寇 – basically it means: the winner is the champion and the loser only has oneself to blame.)
The Treaty of Nanking, signed on 29 August 1842, The Qing government agreed to make Hong Kong Island a crown colony, ceding it to the British Queen “in perpetuity”. In 1860, the colony was extended with the Kowloon peninsula. In 1898, the Second Convention of Peking further expanded the colony with the 99 year lease of the New Territories.
A couple interesting facts:
- When the western army went to China, people in Hong Kong provided food, water and many other supplies to the westerners
- Many Han Chinese, according to other materials, supported the western troops
More to follow, this is only to explain the colony status of Hong Kong, and I’ll write more about what happened in more recent history…
Thanks for reading. Please leave comments.