Hong Kong Serviced Apartments
For the greater part of recorded history, this rocky archipelago - an erratic collection of barren ocean rock - was politely ignored by the rest of the world. A handful of farmers living in walled villages, such as Kat Hing Wai, spent their days quietly watching the rice grow, fishing, visiting the temple and playing mah-jong. Then the British arrived.
Hong Kong burst onto the world stage when a pragmatic English naval officer raised the Union Jack on the shores of Western District on January 26, 1841. Captain Charles Elliot had established the perfect base for the British Empire's most profitable colonial operation: selling opium.
Hong Kong was not an overnight success and, after mutual agreement between the British and the Chinese ended the opium trade in 1911, the 1920s and 1930s saw steady progress rather than stellar expansion. Shanghai dominated East Asian trade throughout the period between World War I and World War II, and Hong Kong remained a relatively quiet backwater.
During the early years of Mao's revolution (1949-1950), thousands of talented industrialists, manufacturers, and bankers fled Shanghai and set up business in cramped Kowloon quarters. The population exploded, and soon Hong Kong became a major industrial center where fortunes were made in textiles and construction. The population of residential areas such as Mongkok rocketed, while Causeway Bay, Wanchai and Central established themselves as centers of commerce and finance.
Fast-forward to a wet July 1, 1997, when the British handed Hong Kong back to China, thus honoring the original 1898 lease. The Union Jack, first raised by Captain Elliot a century and a half before, was returned in driving rain to an emotional Chris Patten. With a prince, a president and a prime minister in attendance, the sun finally set over the British Empire.
So what does the future hold for this once barren, remote, useless ocean rock? Well, it still ranks as the top financial center in the region with the most open markets and the most inviting tax breaks; boasts an expanding economy, specializing in textiles, clothing, tourism, and electronics; holds one of the deepest container ports in the world; and possesses an airport - Chek Lap Kok - twice the size of JFK, capable of handling 35 million passengers a year. Not bad.
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