Hong Kong: A New Beginning for China?

  • Michael Yahuda
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


Modern Chinese history is usually said to have begun with the Opium War of 1839–42 which resulted in the forcible opening of China to Western trade and influence.2 This certainly led to a departure from previous patterns of Chinese history as the impact of the West was to challenge and finally subvert traditional modes of thought, social organisation, notions of identity and relations with the outside world. Since then China’s modern history has been shaped by restless attempts at reformation and revolution that have sought to transform the country’s domestic conditions and international status so as to ensure not only strength and prosperity, but also to allow China to make contributions to contemporary international science and civilisation commensurate with what was achieved in the glorious past. Whatever achievements may be claimed on behalf of these various attempts at transformation none can be said to have succeeded in the end. Consequently, they prepared the way for further attempts. The question this chapter addresses is whether China may be on the verge of yet another new beginning and, more specifically, whether the reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 will provide the stimulus for further fundamental change.


Communist Party Coastal Province Total Foreign Direct Investment Collective Leadership Chinese Nationalism 
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  1. 3.
    The Convention of Chuanbi of 28 January 1841 that was confirmed by the Treaty of Nanking of 1842. For the most recent account, see Frank Welsh, A History of Hong Kong (London: HarperCollins, 1993) Ch 4, pp. 101–31.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Translated and cited in Ssu-Yu Teng and John K. Fairbank, China’s Response to the West: A documentary survey, 1839–1923 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961), p. 19.Google Scholar
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    For a detailed and colourful account, see Richard Baum, Burying Mao (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
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    Wen Wei Po, 20 March 1988, cited in Kevin Rafferty, City on the Rocks: Hong Kong’s Uncertain Future (London: Penguin, rev. and updated edn, 1991), p. 491.Google Scholar
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    Dick Wilson, Hong Kong! Hong Kong! (London: Unwin Hyman, 1990): title of Ch. 4, p. 31.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Yahuda

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