Colonization Of Hong Kong Essay, Research Paper
The Colonization of Hong Kong Colonization from large economic powers brought disease and death to the indigenous population and wealth and power to their conquers. Many civilizations were crushed under the rule of European Superpowers though Hong Kong was the exception. The colonization of Hong Kong made the British wealthy and the indigenous population also reaped the benefits of their newfound wealth The insisted that China should trade with the rest of the world in the 1800’s. The Chinese were very reluctant to do so and as a consequence they only left one port open to trade with the Western world, Guangzhou, the Capital of Guandong. The high prices instigated by the Chinese leaders, the Qing, gold and silver were the only goods China would accept. This lead to draconian treatment of the Qing by the British traders. The official trade monopoly was know as Cohong. Even though the British government and traders were enraged by this embargo they still continued to trade with the Chinese none the less. Increasingly the greedy want for gold and silver by the Qing was barely reached by the British traders. Indian opium became more lucrative as a commodity and the British who ruled over India at the time, started to trade with Opium, even though Opiates were illegal. Opium is an extremely addictive and popular drug that was used by millions of Chinese. As corruption and addiction became prevalent, silver and gold stores slowly but surely drained. The Chinese Emperor Daoguang tried to stop Opium trade by instigating trade laws and hired various commissioners to reinforce them against the Chinese and British traders. In March 1839 Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu was assigned to destroy 1400 tons of opium. Lin blockaded the British traders in their compounds and the Opium was destroyed by the Chinese troops. Theses actions gave the British they opportunity they had been looking for, a reason to declare war on China. In June 1840 a British fleet arrived in Guangzhou demanding repayment for the lost opium. Meanwhile another fleet moved towards Tianjing and threatened the Capital, Beijing. The Emperor immediately dismissed Commissioner Lin and instated a new commissioner Qishan. Qishan capitulated to the British demands and signed the Convention of Quanbi, which in January 1841 handed Hong Kong over to the British, as well as a substantial compensation for the lost opium. Opium trade then continued in Guangzhou bringing huge financial gain to the British Empire. The Chinese were under the false belief that by signing the Quanbi Convention that all hostilities would end. This would prove to be a grave mistake. Both the Chinese and British Empire later revoked the Convention. The Chinese believed that the British Empire received far too much gain from the Convention. The British government believed they received too little. In the August of 1841 the British fleet embarked on yet another voyage to the north of China. The British fleet successfully sacked and destroyed number of northern cities and villages. This latest expedition forced the Qing to concede and sign the Treaty of Nanjing; this was the first stage of the British acquisition of Hong Kong. The British acquired Hong Kong in three stages, the first, Hong Kong Island was signed over to the British in the Nanjing Treaty. “His Majesty the Emperor of China agrees that British subjects, with their families and establishments, shall be allowed to reside, for the purpose of carrying out Mercantile pursuits, without molestation or restraint at the Cities of Canton (Guangzhou), Amoy (Xiamen), Foochow-fu (Fuzhou), Ningpo (Ningbo) and Shanghai, and Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, etc., will appoint Superintendents or Consul Officers, to reside at each of the above mentioned cities or town to be the medium of communication between the Chinese authorities and said Merchants .”-A select article from the Treaty of Nanjing. The provisions of the Nanjing Treaty made it clear that it was the Western desire to potentially vast markets in China, and not opium, that was the real reason for the unequal treaties imposed on China by the British after the Treaty of Nanjing. Opium was a convenient excuse. Hong Kong Island was too small for the British’s liking. Soon landings were made at Kowloon Peninsula after a Chinese attack on British Merchant vessel. War again broke out but British forces soon occupied Guangzhou. In 1860 Allied British and French troops numbering some 25,000 occupied Beijing. Kowloon Peninsula was temporarily leased to house British troops but eventually it was perpetually leased. The Treaty of Beijing handed Kowloon Peninsula over to the British. In 1898 the British were musing whether to extend their territories in China. Other nations such as Russia and France had also leased land for colonization. The British decided if they were to permanently keep more of China other nations would also. The British decided to hand back Hong Kong and Kowloon Peninsula to China in exactly 100 years, in the year 1997. The British rule of Hong Kong was for the most part, fair and just. Hong Kong was not plundered or disease ridden, rather used as a prosperous trade route between China, the Dutch East Indies, India and Japan. Hong Kong was ruled with British laws and soon after English became the official language. As trade increased so did the population who lived in a safe and prosperous environment. In the 20th Century as conditions in China worsened hundreds of Chinese tried to escape the oppression and drudgery of China by going to Hong Kong. At first many were let into Hong Kong but as the refugees increased Hong Kong closed its gates. But this did not hinder many as Chinese tried to swim from mainland China to Hong Kong. British rule in Hong Kong was one of few exceptions in the usual terror reign of colonising powers. But could the cost of taking Hong Kong from the Chinese be accounted for?