Hong Kong History 1949-1997
Became the #1 Financial Center
Back to China Rule Again

Hong Kong History 1949-1997 had many ups and downs. In the end, the Hong Kong people still survive.

A video found in youtube about the Handover ceremony at midnight Jul 1, 1997

After the establishment of PRC (People's Republic of China), there was an embargo to China. Due to this situation, every business in China had to go through Hong Kong. That is the reason why Hong Kong has become so prosperous.

My grandfather (from my father's side) was a merchant that used this to his advantage. He traded fruit between China and Singapore. I remember when we were kids, we had many opportunities to try all different types of exotic fruits, like durian, kiwi, raspberries and so forth.

My first experience of eating kiwi was giving me an itchy tongue. (Kiwi was originally from China, not Australia). I also recall trying a kind of berry which was very similar to raspberry. We had it at 2 different times. Since then, I have never seen them again.

Back then, fruit supply was unlimited because of grandpa's business. He was one of the examples of being successful in taking the advantage of the trade between China and other countries in the world.

Right after graduating from high school , I worked in another company that also took advantage of this. They traded beans between China and Indonesia. My father imported and exported instant noodles from Taiwan, orange juice from Korea, watches from Switzerland and many more. There were tons and tons of trading companies in Hong Kong like I mentioned above. But definitely, there are not as many as before since the internet era.

Chinese immigrants also brought in many great tailors which led to the blossoming of the textile and garment industries. During the Vietnamese War, many American soldiers stopped by Hong Kong. My mom worked in a tailor's shop before her marriage. She said that many of the Americans came in and ordered tailor-made suits. Many of them never came back to pick them up.

When I was little, our clothes were made by a tailor. I still remember stepping into the shop with my mom, which was located close to Time Square Mall.

The Vietnamese War also brought in thousands of refugees. Hong Kong adopted the "port of first asylum policy". It received over 100,000 Vietnamese at the peak of emigration in the late 1980s. On the way to school, we always heard of the news from the radio about how many boat people just came and the violence in the refugee camp.

A sad event in Hong Kong History 1949-1997 occurred in 1953, there was Shek Kip Mei fire. Many houses were burned down. Back then, houses in Hong Kong used to be built out of aluminum sheeting on the hill side.

I recall that we could overlook a hill side of people living in these kinds of houses from the balcony of our apartment during 1988-1993. After this fire, the Hong Kong government started to build public housing estates.

I heard many childhood stories from my father living in one in North Point. He said that there was no playground. Outside of the estate, there was a bus terminal. All the kids would play on the stair cases and in the corridors.

TV was luxury at that time. One day, my grandfather bought a black and white TV back home. Almost everybody came to the apartment and watched TV together.

I remember when one of my cousins was born, we all went to visit my uncle and aunt in an apartment of the same public housing estate in North Point. It was very, very tiny.

When I was in elementary school, the school bus stop was right in front of one of these buildings. The living conditions might not be the greatest. But with very, very low rent, these public housing estates did provide a home for many families.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Hong Kong British government was the biggest landlord in the world.

As the economy prospered, so did the people's income. Some of the people in the public housing estates became middle class. They were able to save more money. Before the Handover in 1997, the government sold some of these houses to their tenants. My brother-in-law bought the one in which he lived with his mother for a while. And they became homeowners.

In 1984, Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong (The Joint Declaration) was signed between the PRC and the UK governments. A major event in Hong Kong History 1949-1997.

Uncertainty of Hong Kong's future made many of the rich and middle class immigrate to other countries, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, US and South Africa. These countries got a big chunk of funds from these new immigrants.

Not to mention, the 1989 Tiannanmen Massacre made the situation even worse. Hong Kong people thought that the Chinese government would do the same to them.

At the same time, many new companies were set up in Hong Kong. They were the consultants of these emigrants for finding out which of these countries best fit them.

My family also immigrated to Canada in 1995-1996. Less than a year later, like many other Hong Kong families, we realized that the lifestyle over there was not the kind we expected. So, we returned to Hong Kong. My uncle's family did the same.

Time flies. 1997 was here. I remember that there were many, many fireworks throughout the year. The British celebrated this and the China government celebrated that. There were 6-7 BIG scale fireworks. Just before and after midnight of Jul 1, 1997, there were 2 already.

Who would ever think that we were the witnesses of Hong Kong history 1949-1997...Back then, almost every one of us thought that it would be the end of the world.

The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was specially built for the Handover ceremony. Golden Bauhinia Square outside of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was for the memory of this special event.

My sister was a journalist of the political and economic section of a Hong Kong newspaper. She had the privilege to be there to report this historical event. She was bragging about how great it was to look at the firework from inside of the building.

At that time, I knew that Hong Kong fit me the best. I was staying in Hong Kong and took it very easy.

More than a decade now after the Handover, the Chinese government carried out their promises. Believe it or not, the Chinese government always give us a BIG hand when we were in economic trouble.

Hong Kong still has its own administrative system and FREEDOM.

Before the Handover, some big companies, like HSBC Bank, moved their headquarters out of Hong Kong. Some of them moved back lately. So, what does that tell you?

Return later for new stories and facts about Hong Kong History 1949-1997.

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