Hong Kong Museum of History
It was my second time in Hong Kong and I decided to just leave my hotel and walk around the city. I saw the sign for the Hong Kong Museum of History when walking and decided that that sounded interesting to me. Yes, museums may kind of be my thing. So off I wandered until I found the Museum. Located in Tsim Sha Tsui the “Hong Kong Story” exhibit is free to enter.
In the Early Days
Ok, so honestly I breezed through the part about how the geology and geography of Hong Kong formed. I was more interested in the people. I am more interested in what happens when people show up. Granted it is kind of cool to think about tigers and bears
Then people show up
So sometime between 4,000 and 2,500 BC, people show up and things got more interesting. Naturally being close to the ocean they ate lots of seafood and developed both farming and fishing to sustain themselves. Over time metallurgy emerged and the area became more culturally united. Over time that cultural unity extended to a larger and larger area. The pre-British Empire Hong Kong was home to Punti, Hakka, Boat Dwellers, and Hoklo people.
Similar to in Taiwan the Hakka were kind of late arrivals. The Hakka are a Han group started out further north but had kept migrating after getting pushed out for multiple reasons. Arriving late to, well almost everywhere they did not end up with the best land. Instead, they settled in the less fertile hills. In fact, those networks in the hills have been effective home turf for Hakka guerrilla units fighting the Japanese both in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
And Now For Something Completely Different
The British Military invaded Hong Kong during the Opium war. Briton saw free trade as a moral issue and the Chinese saw getting ride of opium as a moral issue. Basically, a game of political brinkmanship got played over the drug trade and about 60 British ships found themselves stuck of the cost of Kowloon and running low on supplies. Lin Zexu had forbidden anyone from selling goods to the British. Naturally hungry men get desperate and shots where exchanged.
From there it just spiraled downhill as Parliment debated what course of action to take. British forces in India had been preparing for war since the destruction of the opium months ago. The British government demanded compensation for lost trade and the destroyed opium. After getting rebuffed the British attacked and started the Opium War. The Opium War ended with the island of Hong Kong being ceded to Britain.
What followed were years of development and two expansions of the land under British Administration. British control of Hong Kong changed the area from being a remote island to one of the largest and most active ports in the world. The museum has a really cool mock-up of a British neighboorhood
Being a small island close to the mainland its not really that easily defended from a large force on the mainland without some advantage over them. Despite the second Opium War, the British maintained control over Hong Kong until the Japanese invasion during World War II. With the mainland embroiled in a Civil War, the return of British power faced no opposition.
However, the success of the communist forces led to many people fleeing to Hong Kong. Combined with damage from the war and lost housing from natural disasters the colony found itself suffering a housing shortage.
Eventually, in 1997 Hong Kong was transferred from the UK to the PRC. The Hong Kong Museum of History wraps its narrative up with the transfer and China taking control of Hong Kong. Sometimes its recent history that is the most sensitive.