1918-1929 1941-1945

Hong Kong 1929-1941

Administration . Hong Kong saw frequent change in the position of governor : Cecil Clementi 1925-1930, William Peel 1930-1935, Andrew Caldecott 1935-1937, Geoffry Northcote 1937-1941, Mark Young Sept.-Dec. 1941. The colony of Hong Kong and the (leased) New Territories were under a common administration.

The Economy . Hong Kong had grown to prominence as a regional trade hub; Hong Kong provided more security than its main rival Shanghai, which was bombarded by the Japanese Navy in 1932.
In 1935 Hong Kong established a currency board; the Hong Kong Dollar was pegged to the Pound Sterling from 1935 to 1967.
The Great Depression (since 1929) resulted in a gradual decline of trade. The outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 both eliminated rival Shanghai and created an immediate need of arms and ammunition on the side of the Republic of China, and resulted in an immediate, sharp increase of Hong Kong trade.
B.R. Mitchell gives Hong Kong's aggregate imports, in current value of 2000, as 796 million HK $ in 1931, 689 million HK $ in 1932, 525 million HK $ in 1933, 464 million HK $ in 1934, 388 million HK $ in 1935, 499 million HK $ in 1936, 912 million HK $ in 1937, 620 million HK $ in 1938, 595 million HK $ in 1939 and 753 million HK $ in 1940 (IHS p.540).
In 1937 Hong Kong benefitted from the situation and imposed little control on trade, as the Republic of China now depended on Hong Kong for vital arms supplies. In 1937 the Japanese destroyed the Guangzhou (Canton) - Hong Kong railway; Hong Kong and the Republic of China agreed to built a highway connecting both (Liu). When Guangzhou (Canton) was occupied by the Japanese in Oct. 1938, restrictions on the export of arms were imposed, a measure which was to harm the Republic of China more than Japan, and which did affect Hong Kong trade.

Social History . The census of 1931 counted 849,800 Hong Kong residents. The Sino-Japanese War, since 1937, caused an influx of Chinese refugees; the population reached an estimated 1.5 million by 1941.
The repeal of the Peak Reservation Ordinance (which barred ethnic Chinese from acquiring property at Victoria Peak) in 1930 marks the beginning of desegregation in colonial Hong Kong. Certain recreational facilities remained closed to ethnic Chinese.

Modernization . In 1937, the first regular air connection was provided by Imperial Airlines.

Preparations for War . In 1939 Britain offered Japan the de-facto recognition of her conquests in China if the latter disassociated herself from the Axis (Liu); Japan did not accept the offer.
In 1940-1941 a system of Air Raid Precaution Tunnels (ARP Tunnels) was constructed.

Article History of Colonial Hong Kong 1800s-1930s, Mark Aitchinson Young, Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote, Andrew Caldecott, William Peel, Cecil Clementi, Peak Reservation Ordinance from Wikipedia
A Case of Self-Delusion. Part 1 : From Colonialism to Confusion, by Henry C.K. Liu
Life in Hong Kong's ARP Tunnels, from Batgung
Hong Kong, from A Global History of Currencies (B. Taylor)
DOCUMENTS Hong Kong Administrators, from World Statesmen (B. Cahoon), scroll down for Hong Kong
Historical Population Statistics : Hong Kong, from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
REFERENCE IHS : International Historical Statistics : Africa, Asia & Oceania 1750-2000, edited by B.R. Mitchell, Basingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan 4th ed. 2003 [G]
Frank Welsh, A Borrowed Place, The History of Hong Kong, NY : Kodansha 1993
Article : Hong Kong, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1913 pp.635-637 (on events of 1912) [G]
Article : Hong Kong, in : Statesman's Year Book 1932 pp.109-113, 1937 pp.116-120 [G]
Article : Hong Kong, in : Americana Annual 1930 p.376, 1931 p.376, 1932 p.340, 1933 p.373, 1934 p.293, 1935 p.347, 1936 p.345, 1937 pp.338-339, 1938 p.327, 1939 pp.359-360, 1940 pp.368-369 [G]
Article : Hong Kong, in : New International Year Book 1930 p.349, 1932 p.358, 1933 p.344, 1934 p.298, 1935 pp.307-308, 1938 pp.319-320, 1939 p.344, Events of 1940 p.337, 1941 pp.263-264 [G]
Article : Hong Kong, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1932 p.301, 1933 p.259, 1934 p.279, 1935 p.273, 1936 pp.243-244, 1937 pp.247-248, 1938 pp.254-255, 1939 p.278, 1940 p.291, 1941 p.242 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 9th 2007

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