The “Fragrant harbor” has had a fascinating past, that has led to the many factors that motivated Sir Thomas Sutherland to open the HSBC there. Today due to its unusual status it is an attractive home to a flock of companies from around the world.
- Early history
Traces of human activity on the island can be dated some 40 centuries in the past. It is during the Neolith that it became a true settlement. During the Bronze age there was a clash of 2 civilizations, namely the Che people (natives to the island) and the Yuet people (barbarian migrants from the south of China), the latter of which took the upper hand and replaced the other on the island.
- Under Imperial China
In the 2nd century BC the island was taken by force by the Qin dynasty and became part of the Chinese Empire. Following the death of the first emperor Hong Kong became part of an independent kingdom called Nanyue, only to be taken back a hundred years later. After this there was little unrest at the location and the islands flourished and became trade centers. It is one of the few places that remained untouched by the Mongol invasion and saw a great influx of Chinese refugees. While peaceful at first the contact with western merchants only served to ruin the islands, because of the measures the emperor undertook to restrict further communication. This barren place was where European settlers were forced to reside when the trading ban was eventually lifted.
- A British Colony
Again however not long after contact was reestablished conflict broke out. The loss of China during the opium wars was what forced the empire to cede Hong Kong to Britain, which in terms established it as a full-fledged colony. The only time that there was a shift from English rule was when Japan occupied the island in WWII.