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3 GrowingasaPartofChina:AHistorical Perspective The historical development of Hong Kong has, in my opinion, always been defined by its relationship with the Chinese Mainland. The changing permeability of the “border” between Hong Kong and the Mainland symbolizes the changing dynamics of the relationship. This fundamental factor has shaped Hong Kong’s development for over 2,000 years and especially the recent past. It prescribes the conditions and sets forth the dynamics that, in their totality, determine the choices people in the territory face in political, economic, and social affairs. This historical context is important for putting into perspective the nature of the British contribution to Hong Kong, both positive and negative aspects, and also the many economic and social policy debates that are surfacing now and will be faced in the years ahead. Hong Kong as a political and legal entity separate from Xinan County (新 安縣), of which it was a part of, was created after the British arrived in 1841. Before then, Hong Kong and the area in its vicinity had a long, rich history. To believe otherwise is to fall into one of two traps: either seeing Hong Kong’s history from the British perspective of having created an economic miracle from a barren rock, or seeing it from the Chinese perspective as the culmination of the humiliation of a great civilization. While much is still unknown about that early period, evidence from archaeological findings and written records suggest that the waters and area around Hong Kong were a busy crossroads of trade and cultural intercourse between East and West and a gateway to China from the south. As early as the fourth century, the “Tuen Mun area” (which would include present-day Lantau, today’s Tuen Mun (屯門), and Nantou (南頭) in present-day Shenzhen) was the first port of call for mercantile fleets after crossing the South China Sea. 34 Introduction Dynastic Changes and Development Historically the Pearl River estuary region was well known for its salt pans. The most productive ones were located on the eastern coast, from Huangtian (黄 田) and Nantou in present-day Shenzhen to Tai O on Lantau, and Kowloon Tong and Lam Tin in Kowloon. After the Han (206 BC–AD 220) conquest of Nanyue in AD 111, an imperial outpost to administer the salt monopoly was established in Panyu (to the northwest of present-day Hong Kong). During the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907), trade flourished in the city of Guangzhou, which had a monopoly over foreign trade, and the reported community of foreign traders was over 100,000 strong. During the Song Dynasty (AD 960–1279), the administration of the government salt monopoly was relocated to present-day Kowloon City next to the old Kai Tak airport, known as Guanfu Chang (官富場). For many centuries, the Tuen Mun area served as an outer port for Guangzhou, a naval base, a center for religion, and a production center for salt. As a naval base, the Tuen Mun Garrison (鎮) was founded in AD 736. As a religious center, Tuen Mun played host to Buddhist monks and Islamic mullahs. It is therefore not accidental that today’s Tuen Mun and Lantau are still renowned for their Buddhist, Taoist, and Catholic monasteries. Another name for Tuen Mun Shan was Beidu Shan (杯渡山), after the Chinese name of the well-known Indian Buddhist monk. The British gave it a different name, Castle Peak (青山). The Tuen Mun area declined after the Mongols successfully invaded China and founded the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1260–1368). In the war against the Mongols, the area was punished after its inhabitants supported the ill-fated last Song emperors in the final resistance. Customs points were subsequently moved from the Tuen Mun area north up the Pearl River to Huangpu, and Tuen Mun was reduced to a mere anchorage. The subsequent Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644) was inward oriented and for many years banned most forms of foreign trade, except tribute trade. This led to the growth of a large illicit trade, coastal piracy, and numerous military adventures in which foreigners—primarily Portuguese and Japanese—were also engaged. Trade was finally legitimized because it was impossible to stamp out piracy, but the Tuen Mun and Guanfu area did not recover. The worst was yet to come during the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644–1911), when the Ming loyalist Zhen Chenggong retreated to the Island of Taiwan. He Growing as a Part of China 35 continued to harass the China coast, forcing the Qing court to adopt a policy...


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