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The Great Difference

Hong Kong's New Territories and Its People 1898-2004

James Hayes

Publication Year: 2006

The study covers the whole period of the Lease, with all its crowded events and dramatic changes, as they affected the native inhabitants and their relationship with the government and, over time, the many times larger new urban population.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

A returned native-born centenarian could not possibly recognize today’s highly urbanized New Territories as the place in which he or she grew up. Yet despite being swamped many times over by the present population, the descendants of those rural dwellers who passed under British rule in 1898 have somehow managed to retain their homes, their traditions, and their character. ...

Abbreviations and Romanization

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pp. xiii-xv

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pp. 1-4

James Stewart Lockhart called it “the great difference”. Returned from a twelve-day inspection tour of the newly leased extension to Hong Kong territory in August 1898, Lockhart, a senior Hong Kong colonial official, had used this phrase to emphasize the gulf between “the Chinese inhabitants of Hongkong [sic] and of the new territory”. But as I shall show in chapter 2, it could be applied equally well to the two places, the old and the new parts of the now expanded British Crown Colony. It is my purpose herein to follow through “the great difference”, over the ninety-nine years of the Lease.1 ...

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1 - The Leased Territory in 18981

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pp. 5-15

In default of modern mapping, no accurate figures for the geographical composition of the New Territory in 1898 are available, but in 1960, before development overtook the area, they were reported to comprise 365.5 square miles, and to include 235 islands and islets.2 There was a similar lack of precision in regard to population. In an appendix to his Report to the Hong Kong Government, James Stewart Lockhart gave some tentative estimates, but they were no more than that, and, in retrospect, not very accurate: “There are,” he wrote, “no reliable statistics possessed by the Chinese Government of the present population of the San On district. ...

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2 - The Existing British Crown Colony and "the Great Difference"

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pp. 17-27

Let us now look at the other side of “the great difference”, the British Colony of Hong Kong, the place to which the New Territory would now be joined. For its 19th-century Western visitors, “Hong Kong” meant the Island, and more specifically, what they called the City of Victoria, though this name was more in official than everyday usage. ...

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3 - Survey, Land Court, Registration, and Customary Law

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pp. 29-41

Land would always be an important element in the NT. Up to the time traditional farming began its decline in the 1960s, it would provide a livelihood for the majority of the indigenous inhabitants, and also for the tens of thousands of immigrant vegetable and livestock farmers who, from the late 1940s on, supplied an ever-growing percentage of the Colony’s food supplies. But from a “whole Colony” point of view, and almost from the start of the Lease, possession of the New Territory would enable the Hong Kong government to secure land there for various purposes at all times. ...

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4 - "Give and Take" in the New Territory up to 1941

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pp. 43-57

By the time the Land Court had finished its work and the new District Land Registries had been set up, a pattern of administration had been evolved that met British requirements, but it was not until 1910 that a new department was created under the title of “District Office”.2 Each of its two principal officials exercised the combined duties of several posts: namely, District Officer (for general administration and limited civil jurisdiction), Assistant Land Officer (for registry and land matters), Assistant Superintendent of Police (for police and criminal cases), ...

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5 - New Territories People and the Japanese Occupation 1941–1945

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pp. 59-70

In Hong Kong’s centenary year, Japan attacked and captured the Colony after just over a fortnight’s fighting. Three years and eight months of wartime occupation followed. After over forty years of British rule in the New Territories, its still largely indigenous population was to experience the rigorous controls imposed by Japan in the former Colony, and the brutal, sometimes savage, conduct of its military and police authorities there. This jolted a population which under both Chinese and British rule had been accustomed to a slacker rein. ...

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6 - An End to Subsistence Farming: Opening the Way for Urban Development and Country Parks

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pp. 71-84

This chapter takes the New Territories from the War’s end to the mid-1970s.1 I shall here focus attention on a most curious paradox. The essence of postwar government policy in the NT was assistance and improvement of services: spasmodic and unbalanced at first, but eventually continuous and uniform. Yet the object of these attentions, the village population, unprompted, was about to embark on a momentous change, nothing less than the abandonment of its traditional way of life, and in many cases of the countryside itself. ...

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7 - Village Removals for Water Schemes 1923–1974: Resitings and Compensation [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 85-96

In the three decades after the restoration of British rule in 1945, one new water scheme project followed another in an effort to solve the chronic problem of water supply for a swollen and ever increasing population. By 1960, despite all that was being done, supply was restricted to 3 to 4 hours daily, imposing the “grievous and constant hardship” upon “the great majority” of the urban population so graphically (and sympathetically) described in the Review chapter of the Colony Annual Report.1 ...

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8 - Village Removals for New Town Development 1960 Onward: Resitings and New Modes of Compensation [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 97-114

Following on, this chapter describes the rather different compensation policies evolved for the resumptions and village removals required to bring about urban and industrial development in the New Territories. The process began in Tsuen Wan–Kwai Chung from 1959–60 onwards, and continued into the following decade during the build-up of the “New Towns” programme. Ultimately there would be no fewer than nine of these by the end of the Lease, completed or still under construction.1 ...

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9 - The Rural Contribution to Community Building in the New Towns, and Its Background

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pp. 115-125

One day in 1978, sitting in the front row of a large Chinese opera matshed on Tsing Yi Island, I was awaiting my call to go on stage. This was to help present banners of appreciation to representatives from the various organizations which had assisted the local Tin Hau temple committee to stage this annual event. ...

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10 - Village Communities in Change

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pp. 127-144

This period is the kick-off point for describing change. No better reporter can be found than John Barrow, District Officer New Territories from 1935 until his retirement in 1952, as the first District Commissioner: the war years excluded, when like the rest of the British and Allied civilian population he was an internee. With his long service, and keen interest in his charges, the early postwar situation is described in his reports and surviving papers with both humour and realism. ...

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11 - Identities: Staying Chinese during the Lease

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pp. 145-158

In the century of the Lease, two events stand in sharp contrast to each other: the heroic support for the Allied cause during the Japanese wartime Occupation, and the overt support for the Communist opposition to the Hong Kong Government during the Disturbances in 1967. This was, on the face of it, one more curious paradox. ...

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12 - Convergence and Divergence: A Deteriorating Relationship

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pp. 159-177

As early as 1980, the development programmes being implemented in the NT had progressed to the point where, opening a Royal Asiatic Society symposium on “The New Territories and Its Future”, the then Secretary for the New Territories could complain, “it is strange that we should be discussing this topic at all. It is equally strange that we continue to separate the New Territories from the rest of Hong Kong”.1...


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pp. 179-256


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pp. 257-275


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pp. 277-280


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pp. 281-289

E-ISBN-13: 9789888052905
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622097940

Page Count: 332
Publication Year: 2006