Hong Kong: The Road to 1997 by Roger Buckley

By Roger Buckley

Roger Buckley's publication may be crucial interpreting for all these drawn to the striking historical past of Hong Kong in view that 1945 and its unpredictable destiny after 1997. In a hugely available account, the writer considers the transformation of Hong Kong from imprecise British colony to wealthy city-state, and analyzes the political, financial and social adjustments that experience introduced it approximately. In end, he appears to be like to the way forward for Hong Kong and predicts how its resilient and ingenious humans will face the demanding situations of the post-1997 period.

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The reality was that Hong Kong Chinese residents felt little or no active loyalty to British rule; many saw themselves as merely temporary migrants in what was assumed to be a safe haven, or at least a less dangerous foreign enclave, on the South China coast. The Hong Kong authorities had judged themselves largely powerless to stem this tide of refugees and equally had felt unable to do much for their welfare once the new arrivals were ensconced in Hong Kong. Even wealthier long-established Chinese merchant families possessing British nationality would shortly be seen to have a decidedly weak attachment to the Crown.

All played necessary roles but in terms of Hong Kong's long-term future it was MacDougall who deserves to be singled out for particular praise. MacDougall's job as chief civil affairs officer required both careful attention to his immediate instructions to ensure the 'maintenance of law and order and prevention of disease and unrest' and a lengthy agenda for reconstruction and reorganization. Initial British governmental thinking for Hong Kong appears to have reckoned with substantial changes to the prewar structure, including administrative and educational reforms, but the lack of personnel in the first months after repossession inevitably encouraged an ad hoc approach by the government.

Even if more had been attempted to enlist the support of Chinese residents in Hong Kong and there had been greater cooperation between rival civil and military agencies, the deficiencies remain striking. Major-General Maltby had too few troops and Governor Young was in charge of a badly demoralized colony. There was still a degree of outward self-confidence in the last months of 1941 but evidence such as the shipping out of expatriate families to Australia, revelations of serious instances of official corruption and the massed departure of Chinese refugees suggest that all was indeed not well.

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