Treaty of Nanking

Should Hong Kong Chinese be proud of the birth of the British Crown Colony in 1842?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 5:31pm

Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony in 1997 when the People’s Republic of China resumed sovereignty over the territory. The Hong Kong government should have reformed the territory’s history curriculum early on so that our younger generation could have the correct perspective, neglected before 1997 by the British colonial government (“How to teach Hong Kong history”, August 24). Twenty-one years have now passed and our government should not delay doing so any longer to the detriment of our students.

Burdened with a trade imbalance with China, the British forced farmers in colonial India to cultivate poppy plants in their rice fields, causing large-scale famines in many Indian states. Armed with an overabundance of opium, the British East India Company shipped the narcotic to Canton (today’s Guangzhou) and, as numerous Chinese soon became addicts in no time, British trade flourished.

The Opium war (or how Hong Kong began)

When the Qing government finally realised the seriousness of the opium addiction ravaging the Chinese people, imperial commissioner Lin Zexu was dispatched to obliterate the trade by destroying confiscated opium openly. The 1839-42 First Opium War followed, ending with the humiliating defeat of China.

Among the numerous concessions and heavy war reparations, the Treaty of Nanking stipulated the permanent ceding of Hong Kong to the British in 1842. This was the birth of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. Should Hong Kong people of Chinese ethnicity take pride in this birth?

Peter Wu, Mid-Levels