Hong Kong: A History Essay

2034 Words 9 Pages
7 million people populate the Chinese city of Hong Kong, located in the Pearl River Estuary in the south of China. With an area of only 426 square miles, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Known for its towering skyline, light pollution, and thriving economy, it is a very unusual city due to the fact that it runs on a capitalist system while the mainland is communist. Its laissez-faire economy is the result of over a century of British colonial rule: prior to its colonization, Hong Kong was home to only fishermen and farmers. Britain transformed it into one of the most successful trading outposts in the East. The island’s ideal situation at the mouth of the Pearl River contributed to its success, as did the …show more content…
Hong Kong’s situation in the Pearl River Estuary made it an ideal place for a trading post, but this was not utilized until the arrival of foreign merchants in 1557 AD. The Portuguese arrived first, setting up an outpost at nearby Macau, and were soon followed by other Europeans. British ships from the East India Trading Company arrived in 1685, clamoring for tea, silks, and spices along with the other merchants; by 1714, they had established warehouses and offices in the area. The Chinese emperor, concerned by the rapid expansion of European merchants over his region, started imposing restrictions on foreign trade in 1757. The empire granted a monopoly to the cohong, a merchant’s guild, stating that the foreigners were not to trade with anyone else; it forbade foreigners from learning Chinese; and it stated that foreign traders could only trade from November to May, and must stay on Shamian Island while conducting their business. None of the Europeans liked these measures, and things would soon escalate when the British began selling opium to the Chinese; the first European product that the Chinese wanted, the drug drained both the people of their vitality and the country of its silver as its use began to spread. To save more of his subjects from addiction, the empire banned opium from China in 1799, and his successor subsequently banned it

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