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History of Hong Kong

According to archaeological studies initiated in the 1920s, human activity on Hong Kong dates back over five millennia. Excavated Neolithic artifacts suggest an influence from northern Chinese Stone-Age cultures, including the Longshan[?].

The territory was settled by Han Chinese during the 2nd century AD, evidenced by the discovery of an ancient tomb at Lei Cheung Uk in Kowloon. History during Three Kingdoms, Southern and Northern Dynasties is virtually unknown owing to the lack of records and archaeological findings. A statue at today Castle Peak[?] Monastery (青山禪院 qing1 shan1 chan2 yuan4) was said to illustrate an Indian Buddhist itinerant monk of the Southern Dynasties.

Guangzhou flourished into an international trading center during Tang Dynasty. The so-called "Tuen Mun area", which can be referred to the area from the Lantau Island to Nantou in Shenzhen, served as an outer port, naval base, salt production and anchorage area. It was however punished by Mongolian conquest and reduced to a mere anchorage for supporting the exiling Song government that reached the area of today Kowloon City.

Still no significant residence occurred until the first major migration from China to Hong Kong during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) as evidenced by coins, fishery and farming utensil excavations. Local Yue[?] inhabitants were largely sinicized or wiped out. Last Yue village with its almost 1000 residents at Chek Lap Kok[?] and Lantau Island (location of today Hong Kong International Airport) was exterminated by Song local troops during Qingyuan era (1195-1200) after an unsuccessful upraising.

Mongolian conquest of the Song Dynasty triggered even more Han Chinese refugees into the area including the younger brother of the Chinese patriotic rally leader Wen Tian Xiang[?]. The Wen family was among the earliest recorded settlers of Hong Kong. Despite the above immigration, the area is still relatively barren and must rely on fishery and salt trades, which never upgraded to any form of elite status.

Hong Kong also left its mark on the first contact of organized western merchants with China. When the Portuguese merchant Fernao Pires de Andrade met Chinese officials through a interpreter at Pearl River[?] estuary in 1517 to negotiate trade via Canton, the sailors landed at a so called "Tuen Mun Island" and killed some local villagers. This "Tuen Mun island" and village could be interpreted as a proof for maritime trading decline of the aforesaid "Tuen Mun area".

During Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong was governed under the Xin'an Prefecture (新安縣 pinyin xin1 an1 xian4). Tuen Mun was still the name on official records until mid Qing when the area took its current name.

The British East India Company made the first successful British sea venture to China in 1699, and Hong Kong's trade with British merchants developed rapidly soon after. After the Chinese defeat in the First Opium War (1839-1842), Hong Kong was ceded to Britain in 1842 under the Treaty of Nanking, at which point in time the territory became a Crown Colony.

Chronologically, Hong Kong Island was occupied by Captain Charles Eliot[?], Royal Navy, on January 20, 1841. The ostensible authority for the occupation was negotiated between Captain Eliot and the Governor of Kwangtung Province, the result of which was known as the Convention of Chuenpeh.

Britain was granted a perpetual lease on the Kowloon Peninsula under the 1860 Convention of Beijing, which formally ended hostilities in the Second Opium War (1856-1858). The United Kingdom, concerned that Hong Kong could not be defended unless surrounding areas were also under British control, executed a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898, significantly expanding the size of the Hong Kong colony.

In the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, Hong Kong developed as a warehousing and distribution center for U.K. trade with southern China. The development of Hong Kong was disturbed by the Japanese rule during World War II. After the end of World War II and the communist takeover of Mainland China in 1949, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated from China to Hong Kong. Some of the new immigrants brought with them skills and capitals, while others became a vast pool of cheap labour. This helped Hong Kong achieve its first economic success and become a major manufacturing center.

Like most old capitalistic society, many bosses just did not treat their employees well. This was the main reason why the ideal of communism impressed so many young Hongkongers in 1960's. In 1967, a labour movement under the effect of the Cultural Revolutionin CHina, became violent. A famous radio host Lam Bum, who openly criticized the movement, was murdered. After the Hong Kong government brought down the labour movement, the communists' web in Hong Kong was completely broken and the Hongkongers' view of the communists turned into negative.

In 1974, MacLehose of Beoch[?] founded ICAC, the Independent Commission Against Corruption. A mass petition by policemen against prosecutions was an example how bad the situation was. Eventually Hong Kong became one of the least corrupted society in the world.

The opening of Chinese market and the rising of salary forced manufacturers to go north. Hong Kong transferred into a commercial and tourism center. High life expectancy, literacy, per capita income, and other socioeconomic measures attest to Hong Kong's achievements over the last four decades.

December 19, 1984: Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong (The Joint Declaration), signed between the Chinese and British Governments. Hongkongers opposing the handover led to the first emmigration tide.

June 4, 1989: One million Hongkongers match to suport the Beijing students in Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. After the suppression of the protests, Hongkongers was polarised into two groups, the pro-Beijing who supported the suprression and the pro-democratic who opposed it. The unpleasant feelings led to the second and the largest emmigration tide. Australia, Canada, Singapore and The United States of America were the most favourite emmigration destinations. Richmond became the so-called new Chinatown in British Columbia, Canada.

April 4, 1990: Hong Kong Basic Law was officially accepted as the mini-constitution of Hong Kong SAR after the hangover. The pro-Beijing bloc welcomed it as the most democratic legal systems ever exists in China, while the pro-democratic bloc criticized it as not democratic enough. Later on, Christopher Francis Patten--the only occuptional politician as Hong Kong governor--introduced a controversial measure to get around the limitation of the Basic Law. Althrough his measure was strongly objected and he himself was insulted by the PRC government, he set an example of real politician to Hongkongers and he became a star in Europe. See Politics of Hong Kong.

On July 1, 1997 Hong Kong was handed over to China by the United Kingdom. The old Legislative Council, elected under Chris Patten's measure, was replaced by the Beijing-appointed temporary Legislative Council. Tung Chee Hwa became the Chief Executive, the head of Hong Kong.

In 1998, another election was held. The estate market, a key component of Hong Kong economy, started a free-fall.

In 2003, the worsen economy, the SARS crisis, the to-be legislation of Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23 and the unpopularity of Tung Chee Hwa and his officials caused a half million people's march on July 1. The largest protests aiming at the Hong Kong government ever in the history of Hong Kong.

List of Hong Kong Governors:

1843 - Sir Henry Pottinger[?]
1844 - Sir John Francis Davis[?]
1848 - Sir Samuel George Bonham[?]
1854 - Sir John Bowring[?]
1859 - Lord Rosmead[?]
1866 - Sir Richard Graves Macdonell[?]
1872 - Sir Arthur Edward Kennedy[?]
1877 - Sir John Pope Hennessy[?]
1883 - Sir George Ferguson Bowen[?]
1887 - Sir George William Des Voeux[?]
1891 - Sir William Robinson[?]
1898 - Sir Henry Arthur Blake[?]
1904 - Sir Matthew Nathan[?]
1907 - Lord Lugard[?]
1912 - Sir Francis Henry May[?]
1919 - Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs[?]
1925 - Sir Cecil Clementi[?]
1930 - Sir William Peel[?]
1935 - Sir Andrew Caldecott[?]
1937 - Sir Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote[?]
1941 - Sir Mark Aitchison Young[?]
1947 - Sir Alexander William George Herder Grantham[?]
1958 - Sir Robert Brown Black[?]
1964 - Sir David Clive Crosbie Trench[?]
1971 - Lord MacLehose of Beoch[?]
1982 - Sir Edward Youde[?]
1987 - Lord Wilson of Tillyorn[?]
1992-1997 - Christopher Francis Patten

List of Hong Kong Chief Executives[?]

1997 - Tung Chee Hwa

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