A Borrowed Place Alan Tam’s Favorite Book About Hongkong

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In this deeply researched but sterile history of the British crown colony, Welsh describes how Hong Kong became a trading and commercial center after its inception during the 1839-1842 Opium War and gives a straightforward account of the British entrepreneurs and their accumulation of wealth. The narrative is focused almost entirely on British rather than Chinese interests. Welsh chronicles periodic scandals involving the opium trade, prostitution, gambling and corruption that often led to quarrels between colonial governors, civil servants, goverment departments and the community. He describes conditions in the colony during the WW II Japanese military occupation and the postwar effect of Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the 1989 massacre in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Welsh predicts that the handover of Hong Kong to Beijing in 1997 will be accomplished without a serious hitch. “To any British government,” he concludes, “Hong Kong will remain a peripheral concern.” A former international banker, Welsh is the author of Building a Trireme. Photos.

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A sweeping history of Hong Kong, Britain’s last colony, documents court intrigues of London and Peking, the heyday of the British Empire, economic development, its role as a refuge from mainland Chinese communism, and the 1997 return to Chinese sovereignty.

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