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Uneasy Partners

The Conflict Between Public Interest and Private Profit in Hong Kong

Leo F. Goodstadt

Publication Year: 2005

This book goes on beyond the British departure and explains how the Chinese Government's decision to retain the political system of the colonial era handicapped the new leadership in responding to the changing political and social expectations of the community.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

TItle Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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Preface - Expectations of Excellence

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pp. vii-xxx

Among all the people of China, the most fortunate in the second half of the twentieth century were the inhabitants of Hong Kong. They had been insulated from warlords and civil war, from revolution and invasion until the Japanese occupation in 1941. This privileged existence continued after the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949. Its leaders put aside their dogmas ...

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Introduction - Against Great Odds

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pp. 1-18

Hong Kong occupies a unique place in the history of the British Empire. No other colonial territory has matched its economic achievements, and no other colonial community has been so deprived of access to democracy. It was the first society in Asia to escape from poverty after World War II, and by the end of the century its people had a standard of living unmatched anywhere else ...

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I. The Colonial Culture and Its Siege Mentality

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pp. 19-29

At the heart of Hong Kong's colonial system lay a strange paradox. The British rulers were an alien racial and cultural group installed at the summit of the social, economic, and political hierarchies.l They were agents of a foreign power whose presence was a reminder of China's past humiliations at the hands of Western imperialists. Sovereignty over the territory was claimed by ...

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II. Colonial Rule and Its Political Constraints

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pp. 31-48

The previous chapter described the colonial circumstances that shaped the outlook of Hong Kong's expatriate rulers. It showed how they regarded their constituents with a mixture of unease and incomprehension and how they felt intimidated by the influxes of population from the Mainland, by the extraordinary population densities, and by the strangeness of the ...

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III. The Struggle for Autonomy

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pp. 49-70

A crucial question in Hong Kong's colonial history is the extent to which the colonial administration was nothing more than the United Kingdom's agent, with colonial officials simply implementing the instructions of their masters in London. Was the faithful preservation of the unreformed political institutions from the British Empire of the nineteenth century, together ...

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IV. The Diplomatic Battles

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pp. 71-95

While economic independence was vital to Hong Kong's day-to-day survival, local control over diplomatic policies was no less essential to Hong Kong's long-term future. Despite London's constitutional responsibility for Hong Kong's foreign relations, the colonial administration fought for room to expand its ...

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V. In Place of Democracy - A Privileged Elite

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pp. 97-116

Throughout the colonial history of Hong Kong, a refusal to permit any significant progress towards democracy was a major feature of British rule. London gave way to demands for political reforms in the rest of the British Empire, abandoning any pretence that colonial rule was superior to ...

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VI. Government and Business - A Rewarding Alliance

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pp. 117-138

The foundations of British rule were built firmly and unashamedly on an alliance between colonialism and capitalism until almost the very end of the colonial era. The underlying British aim was "that political participation should be contained and controlled".1 In place of democratic elections, the colonial ...

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VII. The Business of Corruption

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pp. 139-157

During the first hundred and twenty years of British rule, corruption prevailed in almost every part of the colonial administration, and not until the last two decades of the colonial era, could the British provide the people of Hong Kong with honest government. Malpractices proliferated within the public service ...

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VIII. The Triumph of Chinese Capitalism

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pp. 159-179

In the middle of the twentieth century, Hong Kong's largest business enterprises were still well-known companies whose ownership seemed securely British: Jardine Matheson, Butterfield and Swire, Hutchison Whampoa, Wheelock Marden, China Light and Power, and the Hong Kong and Shanghai ...

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IX. The Hong Kong Bank - The Ultimate Survivor

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pp. 181-193

The Hongkong Bank proved the most durable of all Hong Kong's expatriate institutions. Among the most famous British business names, a majority failed to match their Chinese rivals and were taken over, often ignominiously. The previous chapter has traced how the survivors were shorn of their historical ...

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X. The Shanghainese - Colonial Allies, Colonial Heirs

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pp. 195-210

Within the business elite of Hong Kong, immigrants from Shanghai had a special status. They outnumbered the expatriate rulers of the colonial era but were nevertheless a small minority within the community, never accounting for more than 2.7 percent of the total population.l They could not match the ...

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Conclusions - The Ideal Constituents

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pp. 211-228

Throughout the colonial era, sheer survival was an imperative even more compelling for Hong Kong's colonial administration than for governments in most other political systems. Despite the glittering economic performance of Hong Kong during the final fifty years of colonial rule, and despite the ...

Statistical Appendix

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pp. 229-235


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pp. 237-300


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pp. 301-330


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pp. 331-337

E-ISBN-13: 9789888053025
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622097339

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2005

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Industrial policy -- China -- Hong Kong.
  • Business and politics -- China -- Hong Kong.
  • Hong Kong (China) -- Economic policy.
  • Hong Kong (China) -- Politics and government.
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