Controlling Lives and Bodies: Water and Food Security in Hong Kong

  • Siu-Keung Cheung


While a good health-care system is essential for the well-being of a productive workforce as shown in chapter 9, so is water and food for the body. This is particularly true for the city of Hong Kong. The supply of water and food from China to Hong Kong in the late twentieth century was more than low-level bilateral economic exchange. It was serious politics that strongly affected China’s strategic priorities in the wider Cold War struggle. As Premier Zhou Enlai stated in the early 1960s, “guaranteeing regular [water and food] supplies to Hong Kong is a political task.” Zhou ordered government officials at all levels to “do their utmost to complete the task” in order to provide a safe lifeline for the local Chinese population in the British colony (Qi, 2004: 44). With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Hong Kong became the frontline of the Cold War. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the United States as Britain’s ally used Hong Kong as a beacon of capitalism against Communist China. At the same time, as a predominantly Chinese city under British rule, Hong Kong offered China a way to collect intelligence on the outside world, acquire resources and capital, and undermine the Anglo-American alliance in East Asia.


Food Security Guangdong Province Government Printer Freshwater Supply Chinese Official 
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© Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, Lida V. Nedilsky, and Siu-Keung Cheung 2012

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  • Siu-Keung Cheung

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