Skip to comments.Hong Kong Was Better Under the British
Posted on 02/23/2012 4:33:16 PM PST by BfloGuy
The Brits created a relatively uncorrupt and competent civil service to run the city day-to-day. "They take enormous satisfaction in minutes, protocol, proper channels, precedents," as Mr. Davies described them, "even in the red tape that binds up their files inside the neat cubby holes within their registries." Their slavish adherence to bureaucratic procedure helped create respect for the rule of law and prevented abuses of power.
Above the civil servants sat the career-grade officials appointed from London. These nabobs were often arrogant, affecting a contempt for journalists and other "unhelpful" critics. But they did respond to public opinion as transmitted through the newspapers and other channels.
Part of the reason they did was that Hong Kong officials were accountable to a democratically elected government in Britaina government sensitive to accusations of mismanaging a colony. Still, local officials often disobeyed London when it was in the local interestfor this reason frustrated Colonial Office mandarins sometimes dubbed the city "The Republic of Hong Kong." And for many decades the city boasted a higher standard of governance than the mother country.
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I'm sure it's still well worth visiting, but I'd have loved to have seen it when British rule-of-law and tradition combined with Chinese entrepreneurialism to create a wealth-creating powerhouse from a couple islands with no resources at the foot of a mountain.
But, honestly, those were the only obvious indications that the place was a colony of the crown back before 1997.
I haven't been there recently, so have no idea what changes there are.
Flying the Concorde, while fast, probably wasn’t that interesting.
The windows were tiny and you couldn’t risk looking out them anyway, lest you leave skin and eye behind as the windows heated up to something like 800 degrees farenheit.
Watching the Concorde fly overhead would have been more interesting than flying I it.
But, yeah being in Hong Kong prior to it being turned over to China would have bee interesting.
I can’t speak on what it is like today, but in the early 90s, Hong Kong was a blast. I was staying in Kowloon, just off of Nathan Street - basically a five minute walk to every kind of shopping, eating, and bar you could want. Not a place where you go to learn about history or ancient culture, but a lot of fun. :-)
I was an idiot. In 2012, it isn't China with a spycam on every corner. Hong Kong survived just fine. They're probably better off.
I had the need to research a Hong Kong tax issue not long ago. My impression (from both the written documentation and correspondence from employees there) is that the rule of law is really taken seriously there.
I'm thinking there are also valid reasons that Heritage Foundation now has the US at 10th in the world in economic freedom... and falling.
I took a trip from Germany to Hong Kong just before it was turned over. Had high tea at the Peninsula. Was the first place I had ever been where everyone had a cell phone, even in the subway. Got to fly into the old airport, which was an experience. Ate at the New York Steak house. Bought some gold jewelry. Should have bought a lot more.
We can thank ex-officio Pres. Jimmy Carter for giving Hong Kong to China.
I recently saw "Soldier of Fortune"(1955 - three stars) with Clark Gable and Susan Hayward. Now THAT was Hong Kong.
“I’m sure it’s still well worth visiting, but I’d have loved to have seen it when British rule-of-law and tradition combined with Chinese entrepreneurialism to create a wealth-creating powerhouse from a couple islands with no resources at the foot of a mountain.”
I’d still recommend going there. Each time they have attempted a Chinese-style crackdown on the media, the people came out and stopped it. They’re still pretty much left to themselves - and as others have noted, Hong Kong is wild place to visit - totally mind-boggling. I was there for 36 hours on a two week Asian trip (just before they were ‘liberated’ from England) and that was the only place that I wanted to go back to (and still would). They just kicked butt there - whether it was food or anything else.
It lived up to anything anyone ever said about it.
Great shopping for loose gems, some of the best bars and clubs I have ever been in anywhere, people were friendly (for the most part), and the only place you didn't want to go by yourself was the old city.
I haven't been back since then but I hear from various people that it's still one of the best places to visit in the world.
I was in Hong Kong and Macau a few months back for the first time, so I can’t compare it to before they became “Special SAdministrative Regions” -— but I found the people very friendly, helpful and things ran smoothly. I sensed some apprehension from the tour guides about when, at the end of 50 years, the SAR status will terminate, and “one nation/two governments” becomes “one nation/one government”.
More than the apprehension in the US about what condition America will be in after a few more decades down the path we've been headed?
Story by Earnest K. Gann. Great aviation and adventure writer. High and the Mighty, Island In the Sky, Fate is the Hunter and many more. Good reads. If you ever have been a pilot (or would have wished to have been one) Fate is the Hunter is a must read. Clark Gable use to drop by his home in Carmel to play chess. John Wayne was his friend as were many actors and writers of the time. Great story teller. He was also a great sailor and loved sailboats. If you love sailing try Song of the Sirens.
Well, the residents of HK/Macau all have a date certain by which change will come, perhaps dramatically -— while too many Americans, I suspect, are still like the proverbial slowly boiling frog.
You're probably right. I worked in SW London for a few years in the late 90's and Concorde took off each morning (depending on the wind) right over my office. I was spellbound -- always was a plane nut. I think it's perhaps the most beautiful machine man ever designed (or, at least, one of.)
It challenged me. I could only think how much better Britain would be if only the fundamental enterprise type culture was available to make the public service bit work as well as it really should. And similarly, how much better China would be if they could only better organise and harness their natural work ethic.
I know someone who was there pre and post British administration, and she assured me that there wasn’t much immediate change, partially because the Brits negotiated various guarantees and partially because the Chicons didnt want the world to see Hong Kong fail under their control and poured a lot of resources in. However, she has now left and a main reason is that, although as you say it survived, it is not in any way better off.