Voices from the Past: Hong Kong, 1842-1918

Voices from the Past: Hong Kong, 1842-1918

Voices from the Past: Hong Kong, 1842-1918

Voices from the Past: Hong Kong, 1842-1918


Through excerpts from the earliest English language newspapers in Hong Kong, accompanied by Solomon Bard's insightful comments, Voices from the Past provides unique glimpses into Hong Kong's history. Richly illustrated with interesting photographs, chiefl


‘News is the first rough draft of history’ Ben Bradlee

Much of this material was first published as a weekly column called Past Perspectives in the Hong Kong magazine Window between 1992 and 1996. the present publication assembles these columns together in a revised form with many added photographs. in this assemblage of historical snippets, or excerpts, taken from contemporary Englishlanguage newspapers, we look into Hong Kong’s past from the beginning of its acquisition by Britain.

In the early 19 century, trade between China and the West was confined to Canton alone, where it flourished despite rigid restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities. Among a large variety of merchandise traded, importation of opium into China, prohibited by the Imperial Edict of 1800, played a prominent role. Britain, determined to keep the trade channels open, and China, equally determined to stop the opium trade, came into armed conflict in 1839, in what is generally known as the First Opium War. in 1841, the two sides signed a convention at Chuenpi, near Canton, by which the island of Hong Kong was ceded to Britain. But before the treaty ending the war was signed (in 1842) and ratified (in 1843), a small British naval contingent landed on Hong Kong Island on the 26 January 1841, at a small promontory on the western shore of the Island, later to be named Possession Point, and claimed Hong Kong Island for the British Crown. Since this de facto possession of the island was probably the most important milestone in the history of Hong Kong as a British enclave, it is worth quoting the description of the landing by Captain Edward Belcher of hms Sulphur

* From Captain Belcher’s Voyage Round the World, Vol. ii, 1843. Captain (later Sir Edward) Belcher commanded the survey ship hms Sulphur. Belcher’s Street and Belcher’s Gardens on Hong Kong Island are called after him. the sea passage between Hong Kong’s West Point and the Green Island is called Sulphur Channel after hms Sulphur.

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