From a British to a Chinese Colony?

From a British to a Chinese Colony?

Hong Kong before and after the 1997 Handover (CRM 75)

Gary Chi-hung Luk, ed.

Publication date: 2017
ISBN-13 (print): 978-1-55729-176-9
ISBN-10 (print): 1-55729-176-4
ISBN-13 (e-book): 978-1-55729-177-6

View Sample Pages

These essays explore the development and legacy of British colonialism in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong’s place in Chinese history from the mid-Qing through the Republican and PRC eras. Organized around the 1997 transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the PRC, the detailed studies describe the processes of colonialism and decolonialization that played out in Hong Kong from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The contributors also reflect critically on the utility of terms such as “recolonization” to understand Hong Kong’s incorporation into the PRC.

Give to IEAS Publications.
As a nonprofit academic press, we need your support to publish our books. Your gift can help us make more of our titles available as e-books.

Title information

This collection of essays explores the development and legacy of British colonialism in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong’s place in Chinese history from the mid-Qing through the Republican and PRC eras. After a substantial introduction by the editor, the nine contributors to this volume analyze (1) the formation and vestiges of British colonialism in Hong Kong, (2) Hong Kong’s role in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century history of the British empire, the Qing dynasty, and subsequent Chinese governments, and (3) the incorporation of Hong Kong into the PRC in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Their detailed essays critically document the political and cultural processes by which colonial structures were constructed and maintained in Hong Kong under British rule. They also offer illuminating analysis of the discourses on “reunification” that have played out in Hong Kong in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and the aptness of recent characterizations of Hong Kong’s recent history as a process of "recolonization."



Kaori Abe holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Bristol and is a former postdoctoral fellow at Nanyang Technological University.
Sonia Lam-Knott is a postdoctoral fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, and a postdoctoral associate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.
Carol A.G. Jones is a reader of law at the University of Birmingham.
Zardas Shuk-man Lee is pursuing a history Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
David Clayton is senior lecturer in the Department of History, University of York.
Leo F. Goodstadt is an economist, an honorary fellow of the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Hong Kong, and an adjunct professor in the School of Business Studies at Trinity College, University of Dublin.
Felicia Yap is an associate of the London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre.
Law Wing Sang is an associate professor of cultural studies at Lingnan University.
Kevin Carrico is a lecturer in Chinese studies in the Department of International Studies (Modern Languages and Cultures) at Macquarie University.

Pages: 292
Language: English
Publisher: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Gary Chi-hung Luk, ed.

Gary Chi-hung Luk is the Elizabeth and Cecil Kent Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History, University of Saskatchewan. Luk works on early modern and modern China, the British Empire in East Asia, and Hong Kong, with special interests in the maritime and river world, empires and colonialism, frontiers and borderlands, and race and ethnicity.


B.A. in History, Chinese University of Hong Kong; M.Phil in History, University of Hong Kong; D.Phil in Oriental Studies (Chinese Studies), University of Oxford

From a British to a Chinese Colony?: Hong Kong before and after the 1997 Handover (CRM 75)

Note on the Romanization of Names

Introduction. Straddling the Handover: Colonialism and Decolonization in British and PRC Hong Kong
Gary Chi-hung Luk

1. The Comprador System in Nineteenth-Century Hong Kong
Kaori Abe                 

2. Government and Language in Hong Kong
Sonia Lam-Knott

3. A Ruling Idea of the Time? The Rule of Law in Pre- and Post-1997 Hong Kong
Carol A. G. Jones

4. From Cold War Warrior to Moral Guardian: Film Censorship in British Hong Kong
Zardas Shuk-man Lee

5. The Roots of Regionalism: Water Management in Postwar Hong Kong
David Clayton

6. Economic Relations between the Mainland and Hong Kong, an “Irreplacable” Financial Center
Leo F. Goodstadt


7. At the Edge of Empire: The Eurasian, Portuguese, and Baghdadi Jewish Communities in British Hong Kong
Felicia Yap

8. Reunification Discourse and Chinese Nationalisms
Law Wing Sang

9. From Citizens Back to Subjects: Constructing National Belonging in Hong Kong’s National Education Centre
Kevin Carrico




“With the issue (or non-issue) of Hong Kong independence becoming the subject of increasingly acrimonious debate, From a British to a Chinese Colony? is the first book to place the region’s unique political, economic, social, and cultural transitions within their wider historical context. Decolonization, recolonization, or something else—each of the ten chapters in this timely, interdisciplinary volume offers a fresh perspective.”
—John M. Carroll, University of Hong Kong

“Gary Chi-hung Luk’s thoughtfully edited collection is a timely and significant intervention in the growing scholarship of Hong Kong. Timely, because this year marks twenty years since the return of the former British colony to China. In view of such recent events as the Umbrella Movement and Mongkok Incident, it is indeed time to take stock of all the controversies and momentous changes in Hong Kong after 1997. Significant, because this collection brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars who approach some of these controversies and changes in terms of colonization and recolonization—ranging from the debate of ‘internal colonialism’ to the cultural politics of Mandarinization and the ‘myth’ of the rule of law—with a clear-eyed historical perspective. This thought-provoking collection should belong to the bookshelf of everyone interested in Hong Kong and the general questions of colonialism and postcolonialism.”
—Fu Poshek, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“This volume contains a variety of thoughtful essays covering important topics relating to Hong Kong’s colonial history. At a time when Hong Kong’s present and future are in the news, this historical examination is timely and useful.”
—Rana Mitter, University of Oxford