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During Hong Kong’s first century of existence, a society of sojourners—Chinese migrants and British and other expatriates—was formed under British colonial institutions. It functioned as a point of exchange between China and the outside world, for merchandise, people and ideas. For three decades after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Hong Kong lost a good deal of its function as an entrepot. However, its economy underwent rapid industrialization, and became more and more significant on the global scene. At the same time, unique social, political and cultural patterns arose, distinct from other Chinese-speaking or English-speaking societies. As the People’s Republic underwent deconstruction of its Stalinist economic system in the context of global capitalism, Hong Kong resumed much of its entrepot role, and at the same time experienced post-industrial developments. Over two decades of political transition from British colony to a Special Administrative Region under the People’s Republic, important changes in these unique patterns have been taking place.

Written by Prof. Bernard Luk
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