Monday, February 25, 2008

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong KongInternational Finance Centre, the tallest building in Hong Kong

A Capitalistic heaven in the Sea of Communism

Hong Kong the synonym for free trade has always remained as a glaring example for the advantage capitalism over controlled economy. Its sky scrappers stand tall as show case examples of the power of capital and entrepreneurship. With the expiry of the 99 years’ lease agreement between Britain and China on 1997; Hong Kong was returned back to China. China has agreed to keep it as a Special Administrative Region under the Hong Kong Basic Law for one country two systems. This law ensures that Hong Kong will operate with high degree of autonomy; and will be in force till 2047 under the policy of ‘one country two systems’.


Hong Kong has a hilly terrain with a coastline of 733 km, its mountains are steep and the highest peak is Tai Moshan which is 3143 feet (958 meters) high. Hong Kong is bordered by the South China Sea, Deep Bay and the Mirs Bay.

The Special Administered Region

Hong KongHong Kong from Victoria Peak

People’s Republic of China has two Special Administrative Regions (SAR) Hong Kong and Macau. The SAR of Hong Kong includes 1 the New Territories (attached to the mainland, 2 Kowloon (a peninsula of the mainland 3 Hong Kong (island) and the 4th Lantau (the largest island of the group). Hong Kong is located in the delta of River Pearl at the southeastern coast of China facing the South China Sea.

Hai Ap Lei Chau!

It is a group of about 236 islands among which Lantau and Hong Kong are number one and two in size. Hong Kong has the largest population but one island of the group -the Ap Lei Chau - is the world’s most densely populated island in the world. The Kowloon Peninsula and New Territories are also part of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong. China retains defense and foreign policy while Hong Kong has legal system, policing, monetary system, immigration, customs policies, sending of delegates to foreign lands etc.


For the convenience of administration Hong Kong is divided in to 18 districts, it is a free port since 1910 and a hub of maritime trade; it has a population of 7million in an area of 1104 sq km. With a density of 6352 people per sq km it is one of the most densely populated places in the world. The GDP of Hong Kong is US $ 289 billion and the per capita income is around US $ 29,200; its currency is H K $. To understand the prominence of Hong Kong it would be helpful to see the number of foreign consulates located here; it has 107 consulates while New York has only 93! Cantonese-Chinese and English are the main languages spoken.


Hong KongMap of Hong Kong

Hong Kong was first incorporated in to the nation of China by the Qin Dynasty while the Tang Dynasty that followed them used its potential as a trading point. The earliest European to visit Hong Kong was Jorge Alvares a Portuguese in 1513; while the British poked there head through The British East India Company that established a trading post here. When Chinese Emperor of Qin Dynasty refused to import opium it led to two wars between China and the British (the Opium Wars). British who won the battle gained custody of Hong Kong and it was made the Crown Colony under the British.

99 year lease

Hong KongHong Kong city

In the native language the word ‘hongkong’ means a ‘fragrant port’, the British who acquired Lantau and Kowloon defeating the Chinese Empire were smart enough to gain a 99 year lease agreement of the whole region. They expanded the old and dilapidated harbor and to tap its full potential of the location. The Victoria Harbor they built is one of the deepest natural ports in the world; is located between Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong. The British had to pay heavy price for its custody during the World War as they had to face relentless Japanese attacks. The Japanese at one time (1941) defeated them and caught many British and Canadian army and POWs (a la Bridge on the River Kwai story).

A Japanese interlude

On December 8, 1941 Hong Kong had a tryst with the Japanese; they invaded Hong Kong and the occupying British and Canadian forces were forced to surrender leaving Hong Kong at the mercy of the Japanese. The misdeeds they have done in Hong Kong is unparalleled in the history of the world. They cut of food supply forcefully took away whatever currency left with the people and gave military notes in exchange. People with no money to buy food (even with money nothing was available) died due to starvation and diseases; more than half of the HK’s population perished within this five year term tells the enormity of that disastrous rule!

One nation’s poison!

This misrule lasted until the end of the Japanese Empire in 1945. Later after the fall of Japan; UK forces took Hong Kong back and normalcy was reestablished. When China came under the Communist regime and the ensuing civil wars many people had to flee from mainland. China got rid of some of the elements they thought ‘unfit’ for their ‘radical revolution’. Along with ordinary people who migrated; many business people and establishments got transplanted to HK giving an impetus to its march to progress as one of the business centers of the world. One man’s (nation’s) poison turned out to be another nation’s meat!

Visitors’ choice

For a visitor there is hardly any dull moment in Hong Kong; it being a comparatively small island and the hotels are located either in the middle of H K or in Tsim she Sui in Kowloon. Hence a visitor can always be at the center where action is. All the locations are either nearby or accessible by public transport system by road, ferry or train. The conveyances are astonishingly efficient and charges reasonable. English is used along with Chinese in all sign boards and is also understood by most of the local people which has been very helpful to foreigners

Sun Yat-sen Museum, Man mo Temple, Jumbo Kingdom, Stanley Market, Museum of Coastal Defense, Ocean Park, H K Cultural Center, Repulse Bay, Temple Street (Night Market)

Sun Yat-sen Museum located in Kom Tong Hall at 7 Castle Road was opened for public in Dec 12, 2006 to commemorate the 140th birth day of this great statesman who always had a soft corner for Hong Kong.

Man mo Temple

This is the most popular Buddhist temple in H K there are two deities here to be worshipped Man Cheung and Kwan Yu. Man Cheung the God of literature who had had 98 incarnations and finally got deified in 1314. The Kwan Yu was a native of Shandong Province and was a General under Han Dynasty later go deified after his death about 2000 years back. Kwan Yu has been accepted as the Patron Saint of various professions.

Ocean Park

It is a mega entertainment park in Wong Chuk Hang and Nam Long Shan; it is a 214 acre estate with 14 rides, 2 roller coasters and one water ride. It has been ranked as 7th to amusement parks by the Forbes Magazine. The number of visitors exceeds five million a year. It is not just an amusement park as there are laboratories, observatories and education facilities. Its aquarium houses more than 2000 fish varieties.

Repulse Bay

Most luxurious beach; formerly this bay was a haven of sea pirates who were repulsed by British and hence the name. This is the most expensive area of H K as one sq foot of land can fetch more than 20,000 H K $!

Museum of Coastal defense

This museum heralding the brave history of the British forces who repulsed several attacks by the Japanese Empire is located in Lei Yue Mun in Hong Kong. Here military castles, equipments, vehicles, guns etc are displayed. It has a total area of 34,200 sq meters and tells the story of 600 years of coastal defense.


Stanley is a peninsula in the southern point of Hong Kong; it is said that the local name chik chue was originated from a notorious sea pirate who operated from this bay. It is a major tourist attraction famous for clothes available for bargain prices. This place has much historical importance as the last point where the British and Canadian forces stood before they were forced to surrender before the Japanese. Now this fort is occupied by the People’s Liberation Army of China.

Tian Tan Buddha (Giant Buddha or Big Buddha

It is located near Po Lin Monastery at Ngong Ping in Lantau Island. This statue is the tallest bronze built out-door seated Buddha statue in the world. Tian Tan Buddha is a major pilgrimage center for Hong Kong Buddhists as well as a major tourist attraction.

Shop till you drop!

Hong KongHong kong city by night

There are many other places of interest in Hong Kong like the Disney’s Land, Jumbo Kingdom, Temple Street and Hong Kong Cultural Center etc. Hong Kong is not only famous for its historic locations but its shopping malls are so bewitching that they may turn an ordinary sight seer in to chronic shopper.

As a duty free port, much of the tourists electronic, fashions dresses and white goods are not just economical in prices but they come with very many varieties as no where else in the world can boast of. Hence hurry, the party lasts only up to 2047 after that; will China toe the Hong Kong line or vice versa? Let us wait and see!

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