The History of Hong Kong, Britain’s Colonial Legacy. Fast Forward to 2019
By Larry Romanoff, October 13, 2019
CHINESE ENGLISH PORTUGUESE SPANISH
The recent history of Hong Kong doesn’t begin where most Westerners might imagine. It began with the Rothschild’s British East India Company that existed from the early 1700s to nearly 1900, when Rothschild conceived the idea of inflicting opium onto China. The plans had been well-made, with approval from the top. Rothschild had the franchise for growing the opium and David Sassoon received from Queen Victoria herself, the exclusive franchise for distributing the drug in China.
The reason Hong Kong was seized by England, on orders of Queen Victoria, was that Sassoon needed a logistics, warehousing, and distribution base for his opium operations. Similarly, the founding of HSBC, an event requiring permission of the monarch, was for the handling and laundering of Sassoon’s drug money, an expertise in which the bank still specialises today. The standard narrative tells us the HSBC was founded by Scotsman Sir Thomas Sutherland, who wanted a bank operating on “sound Scottish banking principles”, but that’s historical Photoshopping. I don’t know who Sutherland was, but, if he existed at all, he quickly disappeared and his name appears nowhere in a list of directors, executives or officers. The HSBC was never a British or Scottish bank, and it never was and certainly is not now a “Chinese bank”. It was always a Jewish bank and David Sassoon was the Chairman of the Board from its founding. I have copies of the original documents.
Most everything in Hong Kong today has its origin in opium trafficking, in one way or another. Even the famous Peninsula Hotel is owned by the Kadoorie family, one of the famous five families involved in China’s opium trade. And thus began China’s “century of humiliation” and the origins of modern Hong Kong. I now want to digress for a moment to make an important point.
The Americans’ first major attempt at colonisation was with their invasion of the Philippines, after which they forced their language onto that nation and immediately followed with a carefully-chosen selection of false American history, literature and propaganda. They spent decades and countless millions of hours in determining the best way to propagandise an entire nation of people to forget their own past, venerate their present colonial status, and learn to worship the Americans. The same Americans then destroyed and rewrote all Philippine domestic history books to erase from consciousness that nation’s heroes, traditions, cultures, and hopes of freedom from American imperialism. They tried to colonise the souls of the Philippine people, and failed, leaving the country today with almost no culture or traditions, no domestic products (which are a crucial part of a nation’s culture), and having lost all sense of a civilisation.
It is painful to read American commentary on the Philippines today, virtually classifying that nation as a failed state, identifying the lack of progress and apparent absence of social cohesion, and blaming the nation’s culture for these failings. It must surely be obvious to thinking people somewhere that a nation’s culture cannot be over-written without permanently damaging the national psyche in ways that perhaps can never be repaired. As an indication of the deep roots and subtle values embedded in a nation’s culture, it is an axiom that Englishmen claim to be only beginning to understand their French wives after 25 years of marriage. To attempt to forcibly over-write an Italian culture with a German one, or the Chinese with American, would leave a national psyche that is a schizophrenic social mess that might never fix itself. The people would survive, but nothing would be natural or normal to them. In simple terms, they wouldn’t know which way was up, and eventually society would cease to function normally. And yet this is what the Americans so deliberately and unconscionably do to other nations, driven by greed and by their infernal moral superiority fueling their lust for domination. Even worse, the real tragedy is that the Americans have no culture. They attempt to forcibly replace a real cultural heritage of a real nation with a fictional utopian concoction that is entirely fake, superficial and hypocritical, with so-called ‘values’ that the Americans themselves totally ignore in practice. The British did the same with India, which is why we have the schizophrenic mess in that country, Indians not now knowing if they are West or East. Japan avoided this because it remained Japanese and not “American”, as was true for Korea and is true for China today.
From a review of Ethan Watters‘ book, ‘Crazy like us: the globalisation of the American psyche’:
“The most devastating consequence of the spread of American culture across the globe has not been our golden arches or our bomb craters, but our bulldozing of the human psyche itself … In teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we have been homogenizing the way the world goes mad.”
And in his long tome Tragedy and Hope, Carroll Quigley wrote:
“The destructive impact of Western Civilisation upon so many other societies rests on its ability to demoralise their ideological and spiritual culture as much as its ability to destroy them in a material sense with firearms. The Americans specialise in doing both. When one society is destroyed by the impact of another society, the people are left in a debris of cultural elements derived from their own shattered culture as well as from the invading culture. These elements generally provide the instruments for fulfilling the material needs of these people, but they cannot be organised into a functioning society because of the lack of an ideology and spiritual cohesive. Such people either perish or are incorporated as individuals and small groups into some other culture, whose ideology they adopt …”.
Quigley should have more clearly stated that in this process, society itself is destroyed, with no possibility of resurrection.
The British did to the Chinese in Hong Kong precisely as the Americans did to the Philippines: they attempted to colonise the souls of the people, and failed. The major factor underlying many of Hong Kong’s problems and symptoms today, most especially the social and political elements, was this century-long program of cultural genocide that left in its wake a schizophrenic emotional angst, which the US government is today milking for everything it’s worth. The British followed the American path, first forcing the change in national language, then doing their best to force the population of Hong Kong to forget their own past, venerate their colonial status, and learn to worship the British Empire. Few people, and no young people, in Hong Kong today have any knowledge of this part of their history because the British did what the Americans did – they burnt all the history books and re-wrote Hong Kong’s history in an attempt to erase their own sordid past from the consciousness of Hong Kong’s people.
It is heart-breaking to look at Hong Kong today, to see both the cause and the effects, and the existentialist dread that infects that city, the uncertainty, anxiety and fear manifesting itself in American-incited and financed puerile political demonstrations, racism and even hatred of the Mainland Chinese – hatred of their own people, of themselves – the schizophrenic overflow from a century of mostly-failed psychic re-programming. For the sake of cheap political gain, Hong Kong as a whole is being terrorised by the Americans to abandon its own civilisation and national identity and to adopt reprehensibly false American values. The Hongkongnese today have neither awareness nor understanding of what is happening to them while they are being pushed to make choices that will in the end tear them apart emotionally, all to give the Americans a platform from which they can stab at China from underneath.
We can now fast-forward to 1967, the year of Hong Kong’s civil war, though no one wants to call it that, most references reducing it to an “uprising” with the blame levied on Mainland China. It was no such thing. The so-called uprising was a direct result of the cruelty, the oppression, and the savage cultural destruction of the Chinese people. It was the pent-up outrage of a century of humiliation and cultural assault that exploded into an eight-month war that left Hong Kong uncontrollable and with Chinese troops massed at the border to prevent an overflow into the Mainland. Today most people in Hong Kong believe their civil war was merely a ‘disturbance’ created by ‘leftists’ from Mainland China, one of the many lies they’ve been told about their own history.
Prior to 1967, no Chinese in Hong Kong were permitted to attend school, education being for the foreigners and the elite few. Much more, local Chinese, virtually all forcibly in the lower class, were truly treated with contempt. There are many elderly Chinese in Hong Kong today who can tell you of being approached by small white children, being spat upon and called a “dirty yellow dog”. Local Chinese were treated with contempt not only by the British and other foreigners, but by those same few elite Chinese. One of these was Li Ka-Shing, today feted as “Papa Li” and Hong Kong’s richest man. According to documented reports, in 1967 Li approached the workers in his plastic flower factory to inform them their wages would be reduced by 20%, their hours increased by 20%, and various other oppressive maneuvers. According to my documents, Li repeated the maneuver in another factory he owned at the time, these in a circumstance where workers were already expected to work 12 to 14 hours a day without a break. These events were the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Workers refusing to accept the new rules were fired, police arresting many workers refusing to permit goods to leave the factories, these events erupting into violent riots that soon engulfed the entire city and resulted in a civil war. This was not all Li’s fault by any means; his actions were merely the detonator but he was nevertheless one part of a huge seething social problem.
Thus, in addition to the forces of cultural disintegration, most of Hong Kong experienced severe economic and labor oppression, producing economic and social unrest that eventually erupted into violent political demonstrations. Factories were burned, police stations bombed, there were widespread transportation and other strikes, street demonstrations and rioting. Buses were torched and government offices were looted and buildings burnt. The colonial government fired thousands of local Chinese staff for participating in the demonstrations. The police forced their way into a union office, arresting many and killing others, leading to more retaliatory violence. The government and foreign media launched a massive media campaign blaming Mainland China for the unrest.
The 1967 civil war was widely seen as a watershed in Hong Kong’s history, which forced the colonial government to introduce sweeping social reforms, especially on education and social welfare, the Governor finally admitting there was “much needed to be done in Hong Kong”, and later the British Colonial Secretary conceding that “there would never have been any reform” without the civil war against the foreigners and the Hong Kong elite. The insurrection forced the British colonial administration to provide – for the first time – the opportunity for nine years of school education for local Chinese, and amended the labor law to reduce the maximum working hours for women and children to (only) 57 hours per week. It should be noted the reforms did not include political items; there was never any “democracy” for the Chinese in Hong Kong, nor had the British ever contemplated such.
Fast-Forward to 2019
Hong Kong today has two major problems:
The first, as Martin Jacques pointed out so well in a recent article, Hong Kong has never had an efficient or independent government, nor an administration structure meant to manage a large modern city. It was entirely a colonial government designed to carry out and enforce orders from London, and it remains thus today. But London is gone and China’s efforts to improve the situation are viciously condemned by the West as interference and ‘removing freedoms’. This colonial government is effectively hamstrung because the political environment in Hong Kong was created specifically for the oligarchy, created by either opium money or by looting the public, and they do so today with the protection of the so-called “opposition” in the government who refuse all attempts to make Hong Kong a more human city and more affordable for residents. From this, the city is suffering most of its social problems.
As one example, any attempt to use vacant land for affordable housing is killed by this opposition who have been bought by the few land developers, resulting in home ownership being impossible for young people, the smallest home of perhaps 20 square meters costing US$ one million. Hong Kong is the only city I know where tens of thousands of people literally live in dog cages of two square meters, stacked three or four high in warehouses, many housing the very elderly or mothers with young children, and yet forced to pay as much as US$200 per month rent for squalid conditions with no toilets or cooking facilities. Virtually all the infrastructure and much of the retail landscape, is owned by only a few families who take advantage to unconscionably gouge the residents. The reports of the brutal treatment and effective slavery of Philippino nannies and housekeepers, are sufficient to make normal humans cringe. Andre Vltchek wrote in a recent article that poverty rates in Hong Kong are high, and that the city suffers from corruption and savage capitalism. So true on both counts. He wrote that the contrast between Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong is shocking. Also true. People, especially young people, in Hong Kong feel they have no future, and they are right. But instead of looking to the only source of their salvation in the Mainland, they are turning to the source of their problems, the Americans. Thus, for them, “no future” is guaranteed.
In the West, we read media reports that Hong Kong has a rule of law that puts to shame everyone in Asia including China, Japan and Singapore. If only that were true. Some basic civil protections may be fine, but the picture is very different with corporations freely looting the civil population. Hong Kong is a Wild-West corporate town with the most brutal form of capitalism, where the Robber Barons have always ruled and where most fortunes made were, and still are, either illegitimate or inhumane. Here are a few examples from different sectors of Hong Kong business.
A prominent Hong Kong land developer constructed some luxury apartment buildings that were greatly hyped and overpriced. Prospective buyers were comforted by evidence that much of the project had already sold out at those levels and that the prices would soon be even higher. Unfortunately, the sales were all fake. The developer had “sold” many of the flats to friends and acquaintances on the understanding that they had no liability and that the purchases would be unwound as innocent buyers took the bait. But no problem, at least not for the developer.
One of Hong Kong’s more prominent citizens owns a mobile phone company that attracted many new customers by giving a “free” mobile phone to anyone over 16 with an HK ID card. The cries of complaint were immediately almost deafening, subscribers receiving huge bills with no information on how the charges were assessed, and no copy of a contract to determine the fees. Eventually the matter ended in court, the many plaintiffs depending on Hong Kong’s famous “rule of law” to protect them. The courts repeatedly ordered the company to provide each customer with a copy of the contract so they could know the basis for the charges and fees. After years of delay and repeatedly ignored court orders, each subscriber finally received a contract, the document shrunk to a type size so small that all 4 pages were printed on one side of a piece of A-4 paper, and on grey paper with pink ink. Totally unreadable by man or machine. Back in court, the company claimed it was “just trying to save trees”. To my best knowledge, that was the end of the matter.
Authorities investigated Richard Li (the son of Li Ka-Shing) in his bid to buy out PCCW, Hong Kong’s leading phone carrier. A judge called his takeover deal “nothing less than dishonesty”. According to Hong Kong law, a majority of voters is necessary for these bids, but Li had no majority. News reports claimed a senior member of Li’s buy-out group instructed a manager at Fortis Insurance Asia (a firm once controlled by Li) to distribute 500,000 shares to 500 of the company’s employees who then voted in favour of the takeover, tipping the balance for the deal to go through. According to the same reports, neither Mr. Li, nor his company, nor PCCW, nor Fortis, nor any of Fortis’ executives had any knowledge of any of this.
Nathan Road is perhaps the most famous and well-known of all Hong Kong’s shopping and tourist areas, but the criminality of this area has been legendary for decades, with hundreds of thousands of tourists and visitors badly cheated every year. These truths about Nathan Road are available even on the Hong Kong government’s own tourism website, with stories that sometimes are heart-breaking. You purchase an expensive new computer or mobile phone and the clerk asks you to pay with cash to preserve your huge “discount”. He then goes into the storage room to get your item but you become alarmed and ask for help when he doesn’t return after 20 minutes, only to be told that no staff member fits the description you provide, and the store has no idea who took your money. You buy an expensive new camera, take the box back to your hotel and discover it contains a cheap knock-off that is worth perhaps 10% of the price you paid. Of course, you return to the shop to complain, but the owner tells you there’s nothing he can do because you could have made the exchange yourself and are trying to cheat him. But it wouldn’t have mattered because only the casing looks real; the insides are cheap junk. Numerous people on Nathan Road pretend to be tailors offering large discounts on Hong Kong’s legendary high-quality suits. In a room containing expensive fabrics and photo catalogues, you select your dream suit for which you must pay in advance, and which will be delivered to your hotel prior to your departure. But the suit delivered just before you rush to the airport will be a poorly-fitting $100 piece of polyester and, if you have time to complain, your “tailor” is nowhere to be seen. The Hong Kong police could shut down all of this in a day, if they wanted. But they don’t want.
Today, China is everyone’s favorite whipping boy for copied or fake products, but these began their lives in Hong Kong, not in Mainland China and, while the factories may indeed be in China, the owners are now and have always been in Hong Kong, shifting their factories across the border for easier access to lower-cost labor when Hong Kong reverted to China. Even today it is easily possible to buy all manner of fake and copied Western products on the streets in Hong Kong, while the Western media have not a word of criticism. The hypocrisy is deafening.
It’s worthy of special note that foreigners – at least some foreigners – can loot Hong Kong citizens even more rapaciously than the local oligarchy. China, due to its oversight of its own money and economy, suffered little from the 2008 US financial meltdown. Unfortunately, our “free, democratic, and American” Hong Kong didn’t fare quite as well. A great many Hong Kong residents were cheated out of their life savings invested in bonds issued by Lehman Brothers, which were rated AAA+ by the US rating agencies, billions of US dollars worth flooding Asia and particularly Hong Kong. The US FED and the Treasury Department were fully aware of Lehman’s insolvency, the so-called ‘international bankers and investors’ dumping these bonds while plans were in progress to permit Lehman to file for bankruptcy. It was not an accident that Hong Kong citizens incurred such massive losses, the famous ‘rule of law’ nowhere to be seen. The Western media totally ignored the story. There were no videos on CNN of the elderly protesting in front of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange building, no stories in the New York Times praising these Chinese seeking justice.
The second major problem is that (under the same oligarchy control) Hong Kong is a Major Operations Base for literally countless thousands of Americans and others tasked with irritating Mainland China, destabilising the country, and blackening its name on the world stage. If people in Hong Kong had any idea of the extent of US meddling, influence and control – and financing – of their political processes; if they had any idea of the extent to which they are blind puppets whose political strings are being pulled by the US government and the CIA, they would likely die of shame. It is truly unfortunate that most people in Hong Kong fail to recognise the external and foreign stimuli behind street protests, candlelight vigils, and so much more, being used as destabilisation entities targeted at Mainland China.
Hong Kong has literally hundreds of US-sponsored NGOs, plus online media, newspapers, university departments, foreign reporters, stabbing at China from underneath, all with the purpose of destabilising China and overthrowing its government. There are many dozens of Western-oriented political and propaganda organisations, staffed by foreigners and indoctrinated Hongkongnese who constantly denigrate China and push the US political and ideological agenda. To those of us resident in the Mainland, it sometimes appears that Hong Kong has been transformed into one big US war club to beat China into submission. China’s ‘reform and open’ policy has legalized foreign infiltration into every aspect of the HK economy and society, allowing Hong Kong, now officially under Chinese sovereignty, to continue to be an anti-China foreign base and a hot-bed safe haven for promoting unrest on the mainland. From the NED website alone, we can document tens of millions of dollars spent each year in Hong Kong for these purposes. The NED also spends millions of US dollars in attempts to recast its own imperial political ambitions as “protection” for the human rights of HK residents and a benevolent wish for what it terms ‘democratic representation’. It also uses Hong Kong as a base for an enormous amount of political campaigning meant to draw local HK and international attention to the political changes it hopes to effect in Hong Kong, by disguising and presenting them as human rights issues.
The US attempts to take the lead in all public debate within Hong Kong, dictating in advance the terms and conditions within which this debate will take place. The NED carries out so-called “public opinion research” and initiates organised “public debates” on Hong Kong’s political system, centering on US-dictated models of constitutional reform, with attempts to propagandise these to the Hong Kong population and try to force a consensus that these are the only models acceptable to Hong Kong residents. The NED publishes discussion papers and other information, presenting this US-selected content as the only model relevant for Hong Kong, thereby pushing to the side the wishes and aims of China’s central government. Other branches and agencies of the US government are already spending many millions of dollars propagandising Hong Kong residents, creating NGOs, organising protest groups and other mechanisms to create potentially serious disruptions in Hong Kong in order to force political changes that would benefit US foreign policy interests.
The range of interference is unimaginable to an average Westerner. George Soros funds the so-called China Media Project, run by David Bandurski at Hong Kong University, tasked with trashing Mainland China. It was Bandurski who fabricated the stories of China’s “50-cent army”, claiming China’s government had hired 280,000 people who were paid US$0.50 for each favorable internet post about China. The game succeeded for years until someone published screen shots of the Israel government actually and literally offering all Jewish university students US$0.50 for every post made that favored Israel. At that point, Bandurski’s false claims disappeared overnight. As another example, the US government has sponsored several ‘speakers bureaux’ with an imaginatively seditious nature, and staffed by former US diplomatic and White House personnel. The plan is to recruit middle-level Chinese officials and businessmen to profit from invitations as speakers at a multitude of events. Given their lack of experience, the bureau managers provide not only appropriate topics but a handy outline of the speeches, replete with not-too-veiled demands for the removal of China’s government system, for the abolition of China’s SOEs, for the fire sales of China’s infrastructure to European bankers, and much more. If successful, the US will have thousands of unwitting Chinese traveling their country while selling their own countrymen the American road to destruction.
These plans involve not only propaganda but violence. We have seen plenty of that in Hong Kong in recent months, but there was more we haven’t seen. It wasn’t reported in the Western media, but during the ‘Occupy Central’ demonstrations several years ago, Hong Kong police discovered caches of bomb-making equipment that included very high-explosive materials, and masks bearing the likeness of Guy Fawkes, who was behind a failed plot to blow up Britain’s Parliament. At the same location, police also found maps of the Wan Chai and Admiralty neighborhoods, locations of the city legislature and government headquarters and also the Mainland Chinese Army base. Officials concluded at the time that the CIA had produced a small core of fanatics and supplied them with materials and instruction for committing grave acts of violence.
China’s wish several years ago to include what the West termed “communist propaganda” in Hong Kong schools, was more an attempt to introduce the truth of Hong Kong’s history to the people of Hong Kong, the resulting demonstrations against this effort clearly having been directed from outside, and for obvious reasons. The 2019 protests were triggered initially by Mainland China’s request for an extradition bill with Hong Kong, a request hardly unusual since all nations have extradition agreements between states and provinces. The reason is that if someone commits a crime in New York and then runs to Virginia, the NYC police have no authority in that state and cannot simply cross the border to search and arrest, but must rely on local law enforcement. Hence, the extradition agreements. Further, China has several good reasons for wanting such agreements with Hong Kong and Taiwan. For one, more than a few Mainland Chinese businessmen or government officials have embezzled money or defrauded investors, then fled to Hong Kong to live the good life free of repatriation fears. Understandably, China would like those individuals brought back home to stand trial. A similar problem, and perhaps larger, is that more than a few Hong Kong residents have travelled to the Mainland, committed fairly large numbers of imaginative and not-so-imaginative crimes, primarily large-scale fraud but also including espionage and murder, then fled back to Hong Kong, again out of reach of the Mainland Chinese police.
There is however a third category, one not mentioned in the media, that was the likely cause of the US so ardently fanning the flames for this latest series of riots. The Americans have a huge contingent in Hong Kong (about 80,000 people, few of whom are businessmen), beginning with the US Consulate but extending very much farther with the media, the NED, and the entire alphabet soup of US-based NGOs, George Soros’ Hong Kong Media Project, and many more, mostly but not all CIA-funded, on a permanent mission to stab at Mainland China from its underbelly of Hong Kong. Much of what these people do, is illegal, against HK law, Mainland China law, and international law, but they are protected in Hong Kong by US government pressure and, without an extradition treaty, they cannot be sent to China and be brought to trial. The Americans needed for their own sake to kill that extradition bill, and they succeeded. The enormous violence they instigated will likely ensure that bill won’t be introduced again for a long time, if ever.
I will say that Hong Kong was one of my favorite cities 20 or 30 years ago. At the time, I thought it a great city and full of life. Those days are gone. I have been to Hong Kong 50 or more times, the experience quality slowly degrading until now it is mostly unpleasant, and especially so for Mainland Chinese who are very often insulted, abused, spat upon, and sometimes assaulted, by the same young students today seeking “democracy and freedom” by torching subway stations.
Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated into 32 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100 English language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new anthology ‘When China Sneezes’. (Chapt. 2 — Dealing with Demons). His full archive can be seen at https://www.moonofshanghai.com/ and https://www.bluemoonofshanghai.com/
He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © Larry Romanoff, Moon of Shanghai, Blue Moon of Shanghai, 2021