History of Hong Kong/Printable version

History of Hong Kong

The current, editable version of this book is available in Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection, at

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About this book

The first thing you will see when you walk into the Hong Kong Museum of History is a few old rocks. They look neat, sure, but they are not our focus here. This book is about the history of Hong Kong, from the earliest time that Hong Kong ape-people were known to exist – which is about 4000BC. Those people wore made houses, tools and even the odd earring.

When does the book end? Um, no. It never ends. The moment you began reading the first word of this page is already 'history'. This book attempts to cover every last moment of history that is noteworthy enough. If the current Chief Executive suddenly survives an assassination attempt, yes, we will include it here, although maybe not as fast as our sister projects, Wikinews and Wikipedia, do.

Yet, this book, at the same time, aims to be as brief as possible. This is because if we allow this book to grow, and grow, and grow, eventually it will be so big that even a supercomputer cannot load its print version.

Before we embark on our journey to explore (briefly) the history of this city, let us make sure we know what this book is about, its scope and, most importantly, how to contribute to it.

The wiki


First, it must be noted that this book is hosted on Wikibooks, a collection of non-fiction books, mostly textbooks, that is written by the community. For the convenience of those who are reading this in a printed copy, the URL of this book is at http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/History_of_Hong_Kong. Wikibooks consists of two terms: wiki, and books. The latter, as we have seen just now, means that it is a collection of books. But what about the former?

A wiki is a website that allows anyone to add, remove or edit its contents. Such includes the famous Wikipedia, which is our sister project as well as the largest wiki in the Internet, so large that it is sometimes mistaken for the soul wiki. As the 'sum of all human knowledge', Wikipedia can work as a reference tool for the readers. For this reason, readers are advised to look up Wikipedia while reading this book, and this book will also provide links to Wikipedia for further information where necessary.

Since this is a wiki, it means that you can contribute to it. A common guideline in wikis is that users must be bold. That means if you find a fault with the book, you should correct it yourself, rather than contacting the 'authors' and asking them to do it for you. In fact, you can become an 'author' yourself, simply by clicking on the 'edit' tab on top of this page and making a constructive edit to it. For those who are unfamiliar with wikis, try it now. If you are reading this offline, go online to the URL on provided earlier, and click on 'Introduction'. On the left-hand side of 'The wiki', there is a button which reads, [edit]. Click on it, and edit this section.

That's it. You have edited this page. It's that easy.

Before you get too excited though, remember that you are also bound by a set of restrictions, or guidelines, while editing. Mind you, this book, like any other part of the Wikibooks project, is not a bureaucracy. You are always welcome to contribute to the book without adhering to the guidelines so long as you think it will improve the book. This is not to say that your fellow contributors will not find it unconstructive and undo your edit!



First off, all contents of this book follow the requirements stated at this page. (For those reading it offline, the URL is at http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikibooks:Policies_and_guidelines. Remember to observe those rules at all times. However, such rules are subject to change at any time. If you feel that a rule is not constructive to the project, you may ask for it to be modified in our reading room (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikibooks:Reading room.

In addition to the Wikibooks general rules, there are several other guidelines that should be observed where possible. Such guidelines are limited to this book only and may not apply to other books.

Content guidelines


All content added to the History of Hong Kong must be verifiable. That means it has to be published in reliable sources before. If it is something you discovered, then chances are it is not suitable for this book, because that constitutes original research. Instead, publish your discovery on some reliable source first. Then you may add it here, although this is still discouraged as you have a conflict of interest.

In order to prove that you did not breach the above guideline, we ask that you provide a reference for every fact you add. Sources that we do not, in general, accept include:

  1. Internet TV channels or radio stations without a reputation for accuracy;
  2. Primary sources;
  3. Sources published by the person or organisation in question, as it is likely biased (government sources generally do NOT count);
  4. Gossip magazines.

A primary source is a source that is the actual thing we are trying to study. For example, if we want to study the Qin Dynasty, the institutions set by Qin Shihuangdi is a primary source. The book written by Sima Qian during the Han Dynasty, Records of the Grand Historian or Shiji, is a secondary source, which is encouraged. Multiple sources are encouraged in order to ensure a neutral point of view.

Another point to note while contributing to this book is that what you add must be notable.Ask yourself, before adding a fact: will anyone who wants to start their studies on the history of Hong Kong and not explore the trivial, no matter how interesting, bother to read it? If the answer is no, then it probably won't be suitable for this book. If in doubt, try to drop a note at the page's talk page, which is accessible by clicking on the 'discussion' tab on the very top of the page. Or, boldly add it. If an experienced contributor thinks it is not acceptable, he or she will undo that edit and put a note on your user talk page. (If you are reading this as an ebook, you can find your user talk page by clicking here.)

Exercises are encouraged. You can add an exercise at the bottom of any page. First, click on the 'edit this page' tab on top of the page. Next, add the following code right above the line which reads {{BookCat}}:

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Which produces:


Question 1

Choice 1 (correct choice)
Choice 2
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An extra piece of advice before we go on. Write more on recent events than on ancient ones. This is the way most books are formatted, after all.

Style guidelines


Note that these guidelines only reflect common practice, which may shift over time.

Endashes (like this: —) should be used instead of hyphens (like this: -) when used to add information. When citing dates, format the date as follows: 15 June, 2024. When in doubt, consult Wikipedia's general manual of style, although some Wikipedia-specific guidelines may not be suitable for this book. Use common sense and don't be afraid to make mistakes; they will be corrected soon enough.

Important keywords, persons, events, etc., must be in boldface (such as Chris Patten, the Opium War and Legislative Council) and must be included in the index. Guidelines on the index will be provided on that page. If you come across a word that is Chinese (such as Dai Pai Dong) or a word that may be difficult for the general audience, then the word must be in italics and added to the glossary. A word can be both boldface and italics, and added to both the glossary and the index.

Footnotes are appended to the end of each chapter, under the 'notes' section. They are added to the end of each phrase or sentence within <ref></ref> tags. Put the code {{reflist}} in the 'notes' section for it to show. They should be avoided where the use of round or square brackets will not affect the flow of the passage. Reign-names should be in footnotes. Ref groups should be avoided.

Avoid inline citations where necessary, as may create unnecessary trouble for those who are unfamiliar with it. Instead, list out all the references in the Bibliography. All references are to be cited using the citation templates. The most commonly used ones are {{cite news}}, {{cite web}} and {{cite book}}. External links or further reading lists not used as references should be avoided where possible. However, links to Wikipedia for further information is encouraged and can be added with the following code: {{Wikipedia|Page for further information}}. This produces the box on the right.

All pages of this book are to be included in our category, which can be done by adding {{BookCat}} at the end of each page.

As a general rule, add the Chinese translation of words that are included in the index, although sometimes words do not need to be translated (e.g. Cantonese, whose meaning the reader probably knows already.)

Before writing, it is advised that if you are unfamiliar with MediaWiki, take the Wikipedia tutorial on Wiki markup in order to learn code that will help you format your writing. Remember to be bold nonetheless; mistakes will be corrected at the blink of an eye!

Please use the most common romanisation. For instance, Tsim Sha Tsui should be used instead of Tsimshatsui. Where no English source exists or can be found about a proper noun, you can either romanise it in pinyin, jyutping or other means. For example, if someone's called 陳小明, and there's someone called 陳大文 and 王小明, whose romanisations are Chan Tai Man and Wong Siu Ming, you can conclude that 陳小明's romanisation is Chan Siu Ming). If you cannot find such 'equivalents', see where he's from - if he's from the city, you can call him Chan Siu Ming; if he's from the mainland before the age of pinyin but after the Chinese Revolution, you can use Wade-Giles; if he's from the mainland before the Revolution or after pinyin was invented, you can use pinyin.



If another editor disagrees with an edit you make, try not to revert it back unless it is blatantly unproductive, such as vandalism, bias, or spam. Instead, leave a note at the page's talk page and also inform the user on his or her user talk page. That way, you can discuss and reach a compromise. If you and the other editor have a dispute you would like to solve, you can seek mediation at our projects reading room.

Remember that although collaboration is needed, boldness should not be overlooked. If you think something is wrong, just correct it yourself. If that change is really big, you may optionally leave a message on the discussion page explaining the change. Remember to sign your posts with four tildes (~~~~) at the end which produces your signature at the GMT time when it was posted.

If you feel that content guideline on this page is faulty, feel free to leave a note on the main talk page of this book at Talk:History of Hong Kong. If there is no reasonable opposition within 7 days, then you can change it yourself. If it is a style issue that you have noticed the book is no longer adhering to, simply remove it yourself. If another editor disagrees with you, however, he or she may change it back.

Using this book


The most obvious way of using this book is reading it! Online or printed, you are free to read it anytime. But what if you think it's cool and want to print it out for your friends? You are most free to do so, although it is encouraged that you download and print the PDF version, since the print version doesn't look as good and takes long to load. Both versions are currently unavailable, though.

Can you use it for commercial purposes? Yes, you can! This book is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike Unported Licence, or CC-BY-SA for short. That means you can distribute and modify it in any way you want as long as you attribute the book to Wikibooks and share it under the same licence, CC-BY-SA.



Defining the scope of a book is very important. If you go about writing a book without a clear direction, you will end up heading in all directions, and the book will become a collection of miscellaneous facts, a hundred-thousand-whys kind of book. In order to define the scope of a book, we have to first define its title.

The title of this book, as you should know by now, is History of Hong Kong. What is history? History is the past. Even what happened a moment ago is history, because it is the past. Everything from the big bang, right up until this moment, we call history. But it is impossible to start recording history from the beginning of the universe, right? That's how the second part of the title comes in handy. We are writing about the history of Hong Kong, which couldn't have existed during the Big Bang. The definition of Hong Kong is the piece of land that the British colonists took away from China due to the Opium Wars. This includes Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, including the outlying islands.

Now that we've narrowed it down both in time and location, we need to narrow it further. After all, Hong Kong was made from bits of land from that giant piece of land that started off at the beginning, when Earth was born. No way do we know of history then, for humanity was yet to exist. Therefore, we shall narrow down our topic further: the human history, not the natural history, of Hong Kong.

Now, what aspects of Hong Kong history shall we focus on? Look in any good bookshop in Hong Kong and you'll probably be surprised at the number of books on the shelves about the declared monuments, traditional culture and clan histories of Hong Kong. These are part of Hong Kong's history, but as they're already covered by a number of other sources, let's not put too much effort into those. Instead, let's focus on actual events that happened in Hong Kong. Now, every history book should have more information on recent than prehistoric events, since that's how sources work – ever seen a book about world history that says more about the Battle of Mingtiao than the Second World War? – so we won't be rebellious and go with the tradition.

The Hestia tapestry.

Aha! There we are. The topic is still broad, but at least we can manage to write a book on it. So how will we arrange this book? History is often compared to tapestry, a kind of art in which threads are woven together and produce a fine picture. The threads are woven together in a very complicated manner, and it is often difficult to find how exactly the manage to stick together. Therefore, it will be very difficult to cover every thread in history, yet we can try to weave together the main threads, and look at it at a distance in order to perceive the big picture. This is also the reason why it is impossible to arrange the book in chronological order: because events cross so much.

And now...


You have read through the introduction of this book. This means you already know quite a bit about what this book is about. So, read on for a brief overview of Hong Kong's history...


History of Hong Kong


Name Hong Kong


There have been several theories regarding the origin of Hong Kong's name. Firstly, here is an analysis of the name Hong Kong. The 'Hong' bit (香) means 'fragrant' in Chinese, while 'Kong' (港) means 'harbour'. There you are – a fragrant harbour. Note that the name 'Hong Kong', in the early colonial days, referred to the island only; the Peninsula and the Territories weren't called Hong Kong.

There's a legend about a female pirate called Xianggu. She captured Hong Kong Island, so they named the island after her. There are no records of any pirate called Xianggu, though there is one called Liu Xiang, whom we will meet in another chapter. However, Liu exists only on paper; no physical evidence of her activity in Hong Kong has ever been found. Besides, the Hongkongers despised pirates and it was unlikely that they would name an island after one.

According to another theory, Hong Kong was named after a censer in front of the Tin Hau Temple in Causeway Bay. The censer travelled drifted to the island and was stranded on the beach in front of the temple. It was taken to the front of the temple, so they called the bay in front of it Hongxianglu Harbour and the hill behind it Hongxianglu Hill. The name 'Hongxianglu Harbour' was spread to the whole island, so the island was called Hong Kong. However, the Xinan Gazetteer shows that a Hong Kong Village and Hongxianglu Harbour appeared simultaneously but at different positions, so this theory is incorrect.

Another theory is that Hong Kong was named after Xiang Jiang (a name by which Hong Kong is often known to locals), which used to be located in Pok Fu Lam. This legendary waterfall was popular among boatmen because the water was fresh and drinkable. However, the name Xiang Jiang was not coined until the last century, and the waterfall was likely located in Tap Mun and not the island, so this theory is false as well.

The most popular theory is that Hong Kong used to produce incense. (Incense production in Hong Kong is discussed in a later chapter.) The bay from which incense was transported became known as Hong Kong, so a nearby village took the name of Hong Kong Village. The name Hong Kong first appeared in the Yue Da Ji, which was printed in the Ming Dynasty. When the British arrived at Stanley, Chen Qun, a local Hakka (we'll learn about Hakkas later) told them in Hong Kong Village that the place was called Hong Kong (which is Tanka dialect for Xianggang). The British assumed that Hong Kong referred to the whole island, and the name stuck.

Culture of Hong Kong


Religions are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

History of the historical study of Hong Kong


Modern historical study of pre-colonial Hong Kong was initiated be Lo Hsiang-lin. Later, Siu Kwok Kin, a modern historian, followed Lo's lead. A significant portion of the information in this book is connected to Siu in one way or another.



Prehistoric times

They always say that Hong Kong used to be a little town, with farmers and fishermen in every street. That was long, long ago. But what happened before that? Surely those prehistoric Hong Kong people can't do nothing? They would die of boredom, wouldn't they

Archaeologists have dug up quite a few artifacts to prove that they didn't do nothing. Traces of Neolithic culture have been spotted in many an archaeological site. Tools and other things made from stone and clay are tell-tale signs that their people didn't just exist thousands of years ago, but made tools and stuff also. Historians mostly agree that the history of Hong Kong dates back to at least 4000 BC, which is around the beginning of the Metal Age for the rest of the world, but still pretty Neolithic for Hong Kong.

Some terms


Prehistoric and historic


The prehistoric times refers to the age with no written record, and can only be studied through archaeology (which is hard) or stories passed down from generations (which are unreliable). The historic times refers to the age after that, with written record. The prehistoric times ended at different times in different places. For Hong Kong, it's around 221–206 BC. The following diagram compares the starting-times of prehistoric times in different places:


The famous Sumerians were the first to cross the historic finishing line. That's what makes Mesopotamia so famous. They managed to invent writing before anyone else did. The second were the Egyptians, the third the Dravidians. It's only legend that Chanjie invented writing during the Yellow Emperor's reign, and the first known oracle script was from the Shang Dynasty, so we say that the Shangs started the prehistoric times of China. Hong Kong was yet to be part of China then, however.

After Qin Shihuangdi decided to conquer the other lords, he decided he needed more land (like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar). Besides, some of the barbarians of the north had started to disturb the Han people during the Warring States period, so Qin Shihuangdi tried to ward them (the Beidis, since that's what they called the barbarians of the north) off. And he decided he wanted to invade the land of the Nanmans (barbarians of the south) as well. As it turns out, those people are called the Yue people, and he took over Hong Kong while invading Yue lands. As he spread his writing to the South, Hong Kong started its prehistoric times.

Stone and Metal Ages


The Stone and Metal Ages, despite the apparent connections, are not really the same thing as historic/prehistoric, or the dynasties. The Metal Age is simply a time when metals were used in tools rather than stones. This is because metals are stronger and more malleable, among other things. The part of the Metal Age when people used bronze is called the Bronze Age; the part when they used copper is the Copper Age; the part when they used iron is the Iron Age.

The Stone Age is divided into three ages: the Old Stone Age or the Paleolithic, the Middle Stone Age or the Mesolithic, and the New Stone Age or the Neolithic. People built very simple huts and made very simple tools in the Old Stone Age. In the Middle Stone Age, they started living near rivers and fished. In the New Stone Age they starting growing crops and raising livestock and lived in villages with barter systems.

You probably know all that already, so when was Hong Kong's Stone Ages? Most agree that there were people living in Hong Kong during the New Stone Age in 4000 BC.

  Remember that this is NOT in the Metal Age! Bear in mind that Hong Kong was not developed as quickly as the middle of China.

The Metal Age of Hong Kong took place since 1500 BC, around the time of the Shang Dynasty of China, the one founded by Tang of Shang. Read on to find out more...

The original inhabitants of the metropolis


Two peoples, the Yaos and the Yues, inhabited prehistoric Hong Kong. Both peoples are sinilised in Hong Kong.

The Yao people were originally from Wuling, Hunan, what is now called Changde. Two branches of the Yao people inhabited Guangdong. As Hong Kong is geographically located in Guangdong, the Yao people should have inhabited there, although there is no way of confirming that. There are records of a Yao riot in Lantau Island in the early Southern Song Dynasty, though, which is proof that the Yao had been in Hong Kong.

The Che people were a branch of the Yao people, and inhabited Guangdong. A lot of places in the New Territories have the character 'Che' in their names, such as Ping Che, Wo Che, etc., which means the Che people may have lived there. The stepped terraces they built are called Che fields.

The Yue or Baiyue people also inhabited Hong Kong. Note that names like Yue, Yueman or Baiyue are only collective names. They are not a unified people. The Yue people liked naming places with the character 'tung', meaning 'cave', and many places in Hong Kong end with 'tung'. Some rock carvings in Hong Kong see the Stone Age chapter for more on carvings) are of what look like birds, which were worshipped be the Yues.

The world


The rest of the world hadn't been idle while Hong Kong developed its Stone Ages. Here's what happened 4000 BC–200 BC...

  • 4000 BC: Yangshao people in China are still Neolithic. The Sumerians start to get civilised.
  • 3200 BC: Minos conquers Lower Egypt and unifies Egypt
  • 3000 BC: Sumerians invent writing, Minoans and Dravidians start to get civilised too.
  • 2686 BC: The Old Kingdom of Egypt starts
  • 2040 BC: The Middle Kingdom of Egypt starts
  • 1500 BC: The Indus Valley civilisation declines
  • 1450 BC: Mycenians conquer Minoans
  • 1100 BC: Dorians conquer Mycenians
  • 800 BC: City-states emerge in Greece
  • 750 BC: Start of the Spring and Autumn Period of China.
  • 507 BC: Establishment of the Roman Republic
  • 475 BC: Start of the Warring States Period of China.
  • 323 BC: Alexander died

Prehistoric times/Stone Age

Everything has to have a beginning, including humanity. So far, the earliest confirmed date with ancient people in Hong Kong was around 4000BC. The lifestyles of those people were classified as neolithic: building houses by the sea and all that. Stone tools are not the only artefacts discovered: pottery, human skeletons and fossils, and many other things have been discovered.

Rock carvings are found in many places of Hong Kong. Most believe that they were used for religious rituals. The people of neolithic Hong Kong belonged to a group of people in South China who produced pottery with geometric patterns. Hong Kong, along with Qujiang, are the two major archaeological sites.

Some sites


Sham Wan

Date 1971–76
Location Sham Wan, Lamma Island
Artefacts Tools, pottery, skeletons and fossils.

Ma Wan

Date 1997
Reconstruction of a woman created from an excavated skull from the Ma Wan Archaeological Site.
Location Ma Wan
Artefacts Tombs of preshistoric people, some pottery and other artefacts
Remarks The prehistoric people there are named the Ma Wan people. The site is the only in the Pearl River (Chu Kong/Zhu Jiang) Delta where human bones and skeletons are found. In 1997, the site was elected as one of the 10 most important new archeological discoveries in China.

Sha Ha

Date 2001–2
Location Sha Ha, Sai Kung
Artefacts Tombs, houses, stone tool workshops along with more stone tools
Remarks Stone age artefacts were not the only things found there. There were also artefacts from other times, such as the Bronze Age and succeeding dynasties.

Rock carvings

The Big Wave Bay rock carving

Prehistoric Hong Kong people loved carving pictures on rocks. These rock carvings are probably for religious rituals that are carried out before the stone age people went fishing. The rock carvings have been spotted in numerous coastal regions including Cheung Chau, Tung Lung Island, Po Toi Island and Big Wave Bay.

Many of these rock carvivings are declared monuments of Hong Kong. A declared monument a place that is of historic value and is thus protected by the law. Monuments 1, 2, 5, 6, 14 and 16 are the rock carvings. For a complete list of them, please see Wikipedia's list of declared monuments.

Geometric patterns


Pearl River (Chu Kong/Zhu Jiang) is a river that flows in South China. Hong Kong is located in the Pearl River (Chu Kong/Zhu Jiang) Delta. In the prehistoric times, Pearl River (Chu Kong/Zhu Jiang) is hot and wet, and filled with forests and swamps. This hot, humid, and swampy place is where a culture began. The culture, known is Chinese as 幾何印紋圖文化 (lit. 'imprint of geometric patterns culture'), covers the area of South China, including Kwong Tung (Guangdong) and Kwong Sai (Guangxi).

The culture was part of the Bak Yueh (Baiyue) culture, which are ancient Cantonese people. Hong Kong being part of this culture, the pottery unearthed contains a distinctive specialty which is present in most of the pottery of this culture: geometric patterns, hence the name.

The pottery is mostly grey, brown and red. Some of the pottery was done by coiling (more about the technique on Wikipedia). Moulds with geometric patterns were also made to press on the pottery. Such geometric patterns include waves, rhombi and kui-dragon patterns.

Imperial years

Now that you've quickly gone through the prehistory of Hong Kong, it is time to advance into a period of history with even more artifacts, stories and stuff. It's the imperial years of Hong Kong, from the time when Qin Shihuangdi conquered the city, up to the point when the British people took Hong Kong. This part discusses the history of Hong Kong up to the point when Hong Kong Island was taken.

Some terms and timelines


Once Qin started, the dynasty grew very unpopular and was quickly succeeded by the Han Dynasty. After this, China split into three parts. It was called the Three Kingdoms period, and China was then unified to form Western Jin. There is little we know about Hong Kong during these periods. Then, the barbarians invaded the northed and sinicised themselves, so the Chinese people moved to the South. The Chinese state was called Eastern Jin, and there are many stories about Hong Kong in the period, although no historical records verify them.

After Eastern Jin, the North was unified and the Chinese state became Song. The kingdoms kept changing (this period was called the Northern and Southern Dynasties) until Yang Jian conquered everyone and started the Sui Dynasty. Sui was quickly succeeded by the Tang Dynasty, when Tuen Mun became an important harbour and continued to be for some time. Records of the history of Hong Kong started to increase then.

After the Tang Dynasty came the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period and the Song Dynasty. The Northern Song Dynasty was relatively quiet, but during the Southern Song Dynasty, people escaped to Hong Kong from the Mongols. China, under Mongolian rule, was called the Yuan Dynasty, which was succeeded by the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

You and your ancestors


Sure, you learnt last chapter that there were Yao and Yue people roaming Hong Kong before the Mainland Hans people came along. But that is not to say that most of the city's population have ancestral roots here. In fact, most of the people in Hong Kong have roots in the mainland and settled in the city later. The four major groups of people are the Puntis, the Hakkas, the Fuklos (now also widely called the Hoklos), and the Tankas.

The Puntis speak Cantonese and come from the Central Plain, the origin of Chinese civilisation. Their ancestors moved into Guangzhou during the Qin and Han Dynasties and to the New Territories during the Song Dynasty. The word punti means 'local people' because they have been in Hong Kong earlier than the other three groups. They are also known as the Cantonese. There are over forty Punti clans in Hong Kong. The five best-known ones, called collectively as the Five Great Clans, are the Tang, Man, Hau, Liu and Pang Clans.

The Hakkas speak Hakkannese. They also come from the Central Plain, in Shandong. Their ancestors, like the Puntis, entered Guangdong during the Qin and Han Dynasties, but they did not come to Hong Kong until the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. The name 'Hakka' means 'guests' because they were considered guests by the 'local' Puntis. However, some Hakkas later called themselves Puntis and the people who entered the city after them, Hakkas. More on this will be discussed later.

The Hoklos, speak Fujianese. They had been living in Hong Kong since the 11th century Song Dynasty. They are called the river people as they fished in rivers and lived in boats. The name later changed to Fuklo and Hoklo. Nowadays, most Fuklos in Hong Kong have moved to land and do not fish any more. They first migrated to Hong Kong because of war, infertile soil and other reasons. They fished because of the development of ship-building.

The Tankas speak both Cantonese and Fujianese and lived mostly in junks, although some used to live on land as well. Their ancestors were Yues. When Qin Shihuangdi defeated the Yues, some hid in the rivers and became the Tankas. At first, they did not listen to the Chinese government and did not pay tribute to them until the Tang Dynasty. During the Song Dynasty, the Tankas fished and hunted pearls along the Guangdong coast. Their totem was the snake.

The world


Imperial years/Qin to Southern Dynasty

From the Qin Dynasty to the Southern Dynasty, there were very few historical records to verify stories passed down by word of mouth. In fact, historians' knowledge of the Qin and Han Dynasties in Hong Kong is very limited, and studying artifacts is the only way of finding solid historical facts from these two periods. There are lots of stories about Hong Kong during the Eastern Jin and Southern Dynasties, but those could not be confirmed by any solid historical evidence.

Qin to Western Jin


During the Qin Dynasty, Hong Kong belonged to Panyu Commandery, Nanhai County. In the Han Dynasty, this was changed to Boluo County.

In 1955, an Eastern tomb was found in Lei Cheng Uk, Sham Shui Po, verifying the existence of people in Hong Kong during the Han Dynasty. Many artiefacts were found, including the model of a house.

Eastern Jin and Southern Dynasty


During the Northern Jin Dynasty, barbarians invaded the north. A powerful barbarian tribe invaded China. The emperor was kidnapped, and all the royals and nobles moved to the South, along with servants and slaves. A royal was crowned the Emperor, restarting the Jin Dynasty. This period is known as the Jin Dynasty, and the Chinese ruled southern China while the barbarians ruled the north. The Jin Dynasty was overthrown and became the Song state,[1] which later turned into Qi, Liang and Chen. This is why there were lots of stories going on about Hong Kong during the period: the people moved south.

During the Longan[2] period, a Yue person surnamed Zheng became a monk, and built Po To temple in Tuen Mun.

By the end of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Hong Kong was more developed than before. Many famous monks passed by Hong Kong before going to the Jiaoguang region, which refers to Guangdong, Guangxi and northern Yuenan. The most famous of these monks was called Pui To. Nobody knows his real name or where he came from. He went to Po To temple above.

During the late Eastern Jin Dynasty, Sun En and Lu Xun[3] started a rebellion. After failing, Sun committed suicide but Lu Xun continued the rebellion. Lu was defeated by Du Huidu, and his remaining troops escaped to the south. The place where they stayed was called Lo Ting and is believed to be around Lantau Island.


  1. Not to be confused with the later Song Dynasty or Zhou state.
  2. This is the reign-name of the emperor at that time.
  3. This Lu Xun is different from the famous writer!

Imperial years/Tang and Southern Han

Little is known about Hong Kong during the short-lived Sui Dynasty, so we will not talk about that. Emperor Yang of Sui's cousin, Li Yuan, declared himself emperor after Yuwen Huaji assassinated Yang, staring the Tang Dynasty. Hong Kong entered a new era in the Tang Dynasty. For once, Hong Kong appeared in history books as Tuen Mun, a district now located in the southwestern New Territories. In ancient China, Tuen Mun had multiple definitions. In this chapter, we will focus on Tuen Mun during the Tang Dynasty.

After the Tang Dynasty, there was a period of chaos called the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. We will talk about that also. The period is called so because many states appeared in China then.

Tuen Mun


What is Tuen Mun?


Tuen Mun is located in Western Hong Kong. Its main mountain is Castle Peak, also known as Tuen Mun Shan, Tsing Shan, and historically as Pui To Shan as the monk (see previous chapter) had been there. On eastern Tuen Mun is Castle Peak Bay. On the east of Tuen Mun is Kau Keng Shan, and on the south Lantau Island.

The name of Tuen Mun[1] was first recorded in the New Book of Tang. Because it is located at the Zhu Jiang Delta, it had been an important port since the Southern Dynasty period. People from Iran, India, Arabia, the Indochinese Peninsula and the Malay Archipelago had to pass through Tuen Mun to trade in China.

Tang Tuen Mun


With the increasing importance of Tuen Mun, the Tuen Mun Tseng was set up during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, in 736.[2] It was looked after by a 'garrison commander'. It had two thousand soldiers and was ruled by the Annam government, the Protectorate General to Pacify the South. Liu Julin, the Tai Shou of Hainan, used the troops to defeat Wu Lingguang, a pirate.

'Tuen Mun Tseng' can refer to both the district which the Tseng governs, or the place from which the district was governed. For the sake of simplicity, Tuen Mun will refer to the district and Tuen Mun Tseng the place from which it was governed for the rest of this chapter. At the time, Tuen Mun was a huge area, spanning from the New Territories to coastal Nantou, and as far as Yongjia, Zhejiang. Tuen Mun Tseng was located in present-day Nantou. The exact location is a mystery.

When poets Han Yu and Liu Yuxi were exiled, they went south. Both wrote poetry about Tuen Mun,[3] although thus far there is no proof that they had actually been there. Guangzhou was near the southern sea and Tuen Mun was the part of Guangzhou close to the sea. Han used this to show how far away he was from home.

Hong Kong society during the Tang Dynasty


Hong Kong belonged to Bao'an Commandery, Nanhai County until 757, in the reign of Emperor Shuzong, when it was changed to Dongguan Commandery, when the local government moved from Nantou to Daoyong. Most of the residents of Hong Kong at the time were still natives, as described in the [[../../Prehistoric times|prehistoric times chapter]]. Most of them were Ches and Yaos, with some Tankas along the coast. There have been no records of where the Ches and Yaos lived, nor any other sources that give us an idea where except the names of places (see the [[../../Prehistoric times|prehistoric times chapter]]).

The coastal Tankas were probably Yue descendants. Most lived in junks and fished. Some, who might have been descendents of the remaining troops of Lu Xun (see the previous chapter). Those fished and made salt for a living. There are numerous Tang kilns found along the coastal areas of Hong Kong, which proves that the Tankas were well spread along the Hong Kong coast. There is little we know about the people from the north who came south, although some artefacts belonging to them have been discovered in Tuen Mun.

Hong Kong society during the Ten Kingdoms period


Hong Kong belonged to Dongguan County, Guangzhou Prefecture, Southern Han during the Ten Kingdoms period. Near the end of the Tang Dynasty, Zhu Wen, a general of the rebel Huang Chao, surrendered to the Tang Dynasty. The emperor made him a powerful jiedushi. After being invited to kill off all eunuchs at court, he controlled the court and forced Emperor Zhaozong and the people to move to Luoyang. He then killed Zhaozong and made Ai emperor, then overthrew Ai and made himself the Emperor of Later Liang. Liu Yin, another jiedushi who ruled, amongst other places, Hong Kong, was made by Zhu the Prince of Nanping and later of Nanhai. Liu's brother, Liu Yan, after inheriting the title, made himself the emperor of Great Yue, and later Southern Han, the state which ruled Hong Kong until it gave in to the Song Dynasty.

The office of coastguard and a military camp were set up in Tuen Mun. The camp was located at the foot of Pui Tu Shan, although there s no archaeological evidence for historians to learn about it.

During the rule of Northern Han, Chen Yan, an official in Tuen Mun, ordered that a statue of Pui To be made in 955[4]. The statue can still be seen in Castle Peak Monsastery today. During the rule of Southern Han, Emperor Liu Chang decided to give Pui To Shan the name of Sui Ying Shan in 969[5], and did a stone tablet to commemorate that. The tablet did not survive. It was because the court was Buddhist at the time and therefore, such events were common, Castle Peak being a holy hill thanks to Pui To.

The sea from Tai Po Sea to Lantau had popular pearl-hunting sites. Tolo Harbour, in particular, was famous and was called Mei Zhu Lake. Liu Chang set up an administrative organisation called the Mei Zhu Du, and stationed by 2000 people. He hired pearl-divers to get pearls. Some went as deep as 500 metres below sea level, and many drowned as a result. As a result, Mei Zhu Du was abolished in the Song Dynasty.


  1. The origin of the name is unknown, although some claim it means 'a pass where troops are stationed'.
  2. The twenty-fourth year of Kaiyuan.
  3. See Han Yu's poem on Wikisource.
  4. The eighth year of Ganyou.
  5. The twelfth year of Dabao

Imperial years/Song and Yuan

The Song Dynasty saw an unstable north. As a result, the people from the north moved south, like in the Qin Dynasty. This meant yet another sharp turn in the development of Hong Kong. Puntis started moving to Hong Kong during the Song Dynasty, and guess what? This means economic benefits. We will talk about both the Puntis and the economy. The last two Princes of Song even escaped to Hong Kong. This will be one of the focuses of this chapter.

Historical events


Tuen Mun was a port of extreme importance by the Song Dynasty. Joss House Bay was the only way for people to go to Guangdong from Fujian and Zhejiang. The Lams, who later settled in Hong Kong, entered the city through Joss House Bay. Two Lams went to Guangdong to trade, but were threw overboard and floated on a log, ending up on an island. Their descendents went to Po Kong, Kowloon and settled there. In 1254,[1] Li Angying, the 1st Baron of Panyu, was given 300 households to rule, which included Lantau Island.

The salt-making industry belonged to the government during the Song Dynasty (see the socioeconomic development section below). However, salt was a daily necessity. As the Yaos could not get any salt, some people colluded with them and made salt illegally. Around 1131–1149,[2] Zhu You seized Lantau Island, but later surrenderred to Song. Consequently, officials were sent to suppress the illegal private salt-making industry, but in vain. By 1183,[3] the industry was flourishing.

In 1197,[4] a group of Yao bandits, led by Wan Deng and Xu Shaokui, attacked Guangzhou. The Zhifu of Guangdong, Qian Zhiwang, prayed to the God of the Sea, then sought help from the central government to defeat the Yaos. The Yaos' ships were burnt and Xu was taken alive. Qian ordered all the residents of Lantau to be massacred, but some of the thieves under Wan and Xu escaped to the Wanshan Archipelago.[5] Lantau was repopulated during the Yuan Dynasty.

A inspection and patrol office was also set up during the Song Dynasty to pirates at bay.

In the late Southern Song Dynasty, the Mongols were expanding to the south, so the royals had to move to the South, to Fujian and Guangdong. They included Zhao Shi, the Prince of Yi, and Zhao Bing, the Prince of Guang. In the fifth month of 1276[6] that year, little Shi was crowned Emperor Duanzong, and made the Bing the Prince of Wei as well. The Mongols were still headed south, so Shi had to escape further south of Guangdong. He passed Chaozhou, Huizhou, Dapeng[7] and to Guangzhou.

In the following year, the Mongols invaded Guangzhou. Most of the lords surrenderred, but Shi moved to Meiyu[8] and resided at Tuen Mun. The reason why Shi chose Lantau could be because the island was rather populated and was strong in fishing and salt-making. However, the lack of a means of communication between the island and the mainland led to his defeat. He once went east to see some ancient pagodas, but went back to Tuen Mun. He then moved Qianwan,[9] but then moved to Xiushan[10] when Qianwan was attacked by the Mongols. He moved to Jingao, a place in Macau. After being defeated in Macau, he went back to Gangzhou, Lantau. The exact location of Gangzhou is unknown, although historians believe it was around Tung Chung and Tai O. The emperor died there in the fourth month of 1278.[11] Six days later, Bing was crowned emperor. He moved to Yashan and was defeated in the Battle of Yamen the following year. Bing committed suicide, ending the Song Dynasty.

When Shi and Bing went to Hong Kong, the little emperors went to Sacred Hill to see the panoramic view Kownloon Bay. The spot they went to is now known as Sung Wong Toi. During the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty, people carved a stone tablet that reads 'Sung Wong Toi' there to commemorate their visit, hence the name.

During the late Yuan Dynasty, when many people rose to power and seized a bit of China, Hong Kong was no exception. Over twenty people took a bit of Hong Kong in 1355.[12] One of those people, He Zhen, was the most important. He gave up his official position in 1341 and went to his homeland, where he raised an army and fought thieves. He then returned many places to Yuan rule. The Mongols let him rule them. Despite his success, he knew that the Mongolians were losing, and surrendered to Liao Yongzhong. He went on the become the Earl of Dongguan.

Socioeconomic developments


During the Northern Song Dynasty, the salt-making industry was great, but the people did not benefit from it because the industry was owned by the government. A major salt-making site was built in Tai O during the Northern Song Dynasty. In the Early Song Dynasty, the famous salt-making site, Guanfu, was set up. It was ruled by a government official and was protected by a small navy. It ensured that nobody sold or smuggled salt without permission.

Otherwise, fishing, farming, and lime-making were the main ways of making a living in the Song Dynasty. Puntis farmed in the inland areas of Hong Kong, mostly the New Territories, although some farm in the islands as well. Rice, vegetables and fruits were planted. There were tea leaves produced as well, although those were not for sale. Of the 29 lime kilns found across Hong Kong, some are believed to be built in the Song Dynasty, although there are no records so one cannot tell for sure.

The Central Plain was a mess at the end of the Northern Song Dynasty, so people went south to the New Territories. The Tangs started moving into the city in 973, but went back, and did not come back until the late Northern Song Dynasty.

Guanfu was abolished during the Yuan Dynasty. It was replaced with the Tuen Mun Inspection and Patrol Office,[13] which ruled Hong Kong from Tuen Mun Cai – walled city.[14] It was also ruled by a government official and 150 soldiers were stationed there. The head of the office was a low-ranking official who was responsible for interrogating criminals, catching people selling salt, and so on.

The number of salt-making sites in Hong Kong decreased from 17 to 14 in the Yuan Dynasty. Guanfu was abolished because its geographical location was not beneficial, so it was not efficient, and that it was harmful to the people. Records instead went to Huangtian, another salt-making site in Shenzhen.

There was an edict to restart the official pearl-hunting at Tolo Harbour during the reign of Kublai Khan in 1280,[15] and Temür Khan allowed the Tankas one hunt every three years in 1299.[16] In 1319,[17] Buyantu Khan set up a sinecure to control the pearl-hunting industry, and banned it the following year under the rationale that it was socially detrimental, and dismissed the sinecure. Ukhaantu Khan undid this ban and restarted the sinecure in 1337.[18]

Puntis, Hakkas and clans


In the late Southern Song Dynasty, many Hakkas participated in Man Tin Cheung's anti-Mongolian battles. After Man's fall, many Hakkas escaped to the New Territories, and built villages there. The Mans, who are now considered Puntis (this will be discussed in the next chapter), were one of them. The Man clan are descended from Man Tin Sui, a cousin of Man Tin Cheung's. The Ngs also moved to Hong Kong then.


  1. The second year of Baoyou.
  2. During the period of Shaoxing.
  3. The tenth year of Chunxi.
  4. The third year of Qingyuan.
  5. The Wanshan Archipelago is a group of islands in the Zhu Jiang Delta. The Portuguese called them the Thieves Islands because thieves liked to hide there.
  6. The first year of Jingyan.
  7. Present-day Mirs Bay.
  8. Present-day Silvermine Bay, Lantau Island.
  9. Present-day Tsuen Wan.
  10. Present-day Humen Town, Dongguan.
  11. The first year of Xiangxing.
  12. The fifth year of Zhizheng.
  13. The 'Inspection and Patrol Office' was invented during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period and was widely used during the Song Dynasty.
  14. The Cai replaced the Tseng.
  15. The twenty-seventh year of Zhiyuan.
  16. The third year of Dade.
  17. The third year of Yuanyou
  18. The third year of Zhiyuan.

Imperial years/Ming and Qing

The Ming and Qing dynasties were the last two to rule China. The former had Han Chinese emperors surnamed Zhao; the latter had Manchu emperors. During these two periods, Hong Kong experienced changes much more significant than the previous dynasties. During the Ming Dynasty, Hong Kong was threatened by bandits, pirates and even Portuguese invaders. More people moved to Hong Kong (although in smaller scales compared to Song and Yuan.) The economy of Hong Kong was better than ever.

The Manchus later invaded China, starting the Qing Dynasty, and thus the anti-Qing movement had to be stopped by Kangxi. This spelt trouble for the development of Hong Kong, for the Emperor decided to issue an order for the Great Evacuation, which left Hong Kong deserted for many years. When the people came back, Hong Kong was quite a different place.

Hong Kong was part of Xinan County in the Ming Dynasty, which had been split from Dongguan County. Xinan County was merged back into Dongguang in 1666, and split yet again in 1669, which did not change until the British came along.

Ming Dynasty to early Qing


Administration and defence


Early in the Ming Dynasty, weisuos were stationed in Hong Kong. A 1000-soldier weisuo was stationed in Eastern Hong Kong, and another in the West. Since Tuen Mun was sandwiched between the two, the military paraphernalia there was limited to a pier, which was later reduced to flood barracks. In other words, it was not considered important.

Te Tuen Mun Inspection and Patrol Office was renamed again during the Ming Dynasty. This time, it's Guanfu Inspection and Patrol Office. Two government officials managed it and it was protected by fifty archers. The head of te office's job was pretty much the same as that in the Yuan Dynasty. Little is known about the Office before the reign of Wanli Emperor, but the list of heads are, according to the Xinan Gazetteer,[1] as follows:

Lin Yunlong Lin Tingcai Ye Qi Lin Yumo
Li Jiacai Li Chonggang Yang Denggao Wan Wei
HuangZhe Chen Guoli Xu Chaowang Zhong yinglun
Ge Zilü Shi Tingxian Cheng Yingzhi Cha Xiao
Yu Qiong Li Lan Li Dacheng Zhang Yiji
Huang Zuxiang Zhu Chengxue Hong Yixiang Zhong Yingyang
Zhu Bangtai Liu Yingping Wang Zhixie

A statue of Álvares in Macau

External threats


In the mid Ming Dynasty, the countries of the south seas had started to break their relationship with China and surrender to the Portuguese. In 1511,[2] Alfonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguesse, captured Malacca, so Rui de Brito Patalim sent Jorge Álvares to lead the fleet home. Álvares led the troops to Tamao, or Tuen Mun, in 1514. He erected a stone pillar with the Portuguese coat of arms, and set up a camp where weapons such as huochongs were made. Fernando Perez d'Andrade, who was in charge of Malacca, sent Thomas Pirez to Humen through Tuen Mun with a ship loaded with goods, supposedly tribute, but was denied entry by Chinese officials. Pirez advanced anyway. He was greeted by Chen Jinling, the Viceroy of the Two Guangs, who first spent three days studying etiquette in a temple before ordering the ship to be unloaded and the goods be brought to the land. Chen later allowed the Portuguesse to proceed to the capital. However, soon a plague broke out in the Portuguese ships and most of them fled to Tuen Mun, leaving only Pirez behind. The Portuguese were later shooed out of China because Portugal was not listed as a tributary.

In 1518, Portuguese general Simao d’Andrade led his fleet to Tuen Mun, which he occupied. He set up execution grounds in nearby islands, refused to pay taxes, and stole from and abused the locals. Censorate officers Qiu Daolong and He Ao reported to the throne, requesting permission for and assistance in defeating the Portuguese, so Wang Hong, a famous general, was sent. As there were strong southerly winds, the Portuguese ships could hardly move. Wang ordered ships loaded with coal and grease to near the Portuguese ships, causing them to catch fire. He also sent divers to sea and sink the ships. He Ru, who headed the Inspection and Patrol Office in Baisha, Dongguan, persuaded the two Chinese working for the Portuguese to serve China instead. They reproduced Portuguese huochongs, which proved useful in the Battle. After forty days, only eight men were left on each Portuguese ship. The Portuguese escaped on the three larger ships. It was called the Battle of Tamao. As the two armies met in Sai Tso Wan, a bay on Lantau, and later moved to the island of Shao Chao.[3], the battle is also named the Battle of Sai Tso Wan. The Portuguese never bothered Hong Kong again and targeted other parts of China instead.

Not long after the Portuguese decided to change their target to Macau, Hong Kong faced the problem of piracy. Lim To Khiam with his gang of thousands roamed the seas of China, focusing on Southern China but threatening the seas of as far as Kaohsiung, a city in Taiwan. demanding silver from the passing ships. This meant the Hong Kong ships kept at bay as they had little intention to mess with Lim. Lim later fell and went to Changwat Pattani instead, so the seas were safe again.

In 1551,[4] He Yaba, another pirate, led his army of foreigners to the Dongguan qianhu suo, but was defeated by Li Maocai. Pirates Lin Feng, Li Kui (no, not the Li in Water Margin) and Liu Xiang (no, definitely not the hurdler) have also robbed Hong Kong ships.

Bandit Chen Yaowei tried to attack Lung Yeuk Tau in 1586[5], but failed.

The Ming society


During the Ming Dynasty, a lot of people migrated to Hong Kong because of its stable society, among them Hakkas.



Hong Kong's supply of pearls had nearly been exhausted by the Ming Dynasty. Hong Kong, whose pearl-hunting industry was surpassed by Leizhou and Lianzhou was no longer a major pearl-hunting centre.

Guanfu was re-established in the Ming Dynasty. The salt was transported from Dapeng to Guangzhou via Ng Tung Shan.[6] Fishing, farming and oyster farming was also noted in Hong Kong during the Ming Dynasty (as well as the consecutive Qing Dynasty).

The soil found in slopes of Hong Kong are not favourable for planting grains or fruits. They are good for incense trees,[7] however. During the Ming Dynasty, incense trees were planted in Dongguan and Xinan, and Hong Kong was among the places where this was grown. Dongguan and Xinan incense was known as guan xiang, and was of the highest quality in China.

Lek Yuen Po[8] and Sha Lo Wan were the main incense-producing locations of Hong Kong. The incense was transported from Heung Po Tau, whose name means a port for importing incense trees,[9] along a small bay at the east end of Aberdeen Bay, and shipped to Guangzhou, where it would be distributed to places along the Yangtze or the Qiantang, such as Susong.

The Dark Age


The Greek Dark Age was named thus because of the lack of records. That of Hong Kong is similar, but not exactly the same: there were no illiterate people in Hong Kong. There simply were no people.

In the early Qing dynasty, the Qing government ordered the coastal areas of Zhejiang and Fujian to be evacuated as an effort to prevent the pirates and Zheng Chenggong, a Ming official who escaped to Taiwan, from invading. In 1661,[10] the ban was imposed on Guangdong as well. Citizens were forced to move 50 miles into the country. Houses and fields left in Hong Kong were destroyed. They were later ordered to move a further 30 miles.

During the Dark Age, the government neglected Hong Kong, so the city became a base for bandits, notably Yuan Sidu, who took Guanfu and other places and raided the place. Troops were stationed in four ports of Hong Kong (Tuen Mun, Lion Rock, Tai Po Tau and Ma Tseuk Leng) to keep the people out.

Wang Lairen, Governer of Guangdong, and Zhou Youde, Viceroy of the Two Guangs, both requested the ban to be lifted. The court agreed in 1669, and lifted the ban. Former residents of Hong Kong were allowed to return to their homeland. Ships were not allowed to leave Hong Kong until 1683, however.

The Evacuation greatly affected the clans of Hong Kong. The To clan was one of the affected. When the returned to Hong Kong, it took them 20 years to stabilise their lives again. Historians believe the Tos were reduced from over 500 people to around 100 because of the evacuation.

Besides the loss of lives, many other clans did not even return to Hong Kong, for they had got used to the life in the Mainland. To remedy the situation, Mainland Hakkas were encouraged to move to Hong Kong. Original 'Hakkas' who re-inhabited Hong Kong after the lift of the Clearance called themselves Puntis. Instead, the people who were encouraged to move to Hong Kong afterwards were called Hakkas.

Pre-colonial Qing era


Administration and events


By the Qing Dynasty, the Guanfu Inspection and Patrol Office was too weak to rule Hong Kong. Hong Kong was divided into autonomous administrative divisions including the du, the xiang (township), the wei (walled village) and the cun (village). These divisions each had their own elected village chief as well as clan chief.

As the baojia system was introduced to the whole of China, ten households formed a pai, ten pais a bao and ten baos a jia. A dibao and a viceroy would be elected by the elders and approved officially before ruling. A dibao was a policeman who worked in towns. The job of the dibao was more focused on investigation and the handling of criminals, while that of the viceroy focused on administration.

Towards the end of the Qing Dynasty, weaker villages and clans formed unions to defend against stronger clans and villages. Such unions were regarded as autonomous administrative divisions and the viceroy was elected. The union's territory was not decided by the government but the people, and the people would report to the government on the matter. While lacking official laws, there were village-specific rules, and the viceroy and dibao did enforce them. Important affairs within villages were still handled by individual chiefs.

Socioeconomic developments


Before the Dark Age, Jiangxi people relied on Guangdong salt. Because of the Great Evacuation, they used salt from the Huai River instead. Moreover, few salt-making people returned to Hong Kong. The government's efforts to revive the industry failed. Nowadays, there are still salt-making sites in Tuen Mun and Tai O, but the quality of the salt is inferior to that of the previous dynasties.

Incense production was also affected by the Evacuation as few people incense farmers returned to Hong Kong. During the reign of Yongzheng, the magistrate ordered incense from Hong Kong to be sent to Dongguan, where it was needed. The people killed all the incense trees and fled in the fear that they would be arrested otherwise. Although some incense trees still remain in Hong Kong, they are no longer used.


  1. The Xinan Gazetteer is a historical document written during the reign of Kangxi.
  2. The sixth year of Zhengde.
  3. Present-day Sha Chao.
  4. The thirtieth year of Jiajing.
  5. The fourteenth year of Wanli
  6. There is a path near present-day Cheung Shan Monastery that leads to the Mainland via Ng Tung. That may be one of the paths along which the salt was transported.
  7. More formally known as Aquilaria sinensis.
  8. Present-day Shatin.
  9. More commonly known as Tsim Sha Tsui or Tsimshatsui.
  10. The first year of Kangxi.

Colonial days

Now that you've taken a good look at the imperial history of Hong Kong, it is time to advance into a period of history where everything is written on paper, found in buildings and so on. It's the colonial years of Hong Kong, from the time when the Brits landed on Possession Point, up to the midnight when Elizabeth II returned Hong Kong, the last colony of the British Empire, to Chinese rule. This part discusses the history of Hong Kong up to the point when Hong Kong Island was taken.



The world


Colonial days/The Revolution



Rise of nationalism


In the early days of British rule, the Chinese were not knowledgeable, so there was little nationalism among them. The poisoned bread incident did not reflect nationalism as it was based on hatred rather than chauvinism. This changed in the 1860s. The Chinese, included locals and Mainland immigrants were more educated and wealthier than before, so the race segregation in Hong Kong incited more than hatred among them – it evoked a patriotism known as Chinese nationalism.

The rise of nationalism was facilitated by the Chinese-language newspapers. The Chinese Serial, which was founded in 1853 by Walter Henry Medhurst and later run by James Legge, was the first Chinese-language newspaper. It enlightened the local Chinese on western science. The Chinese Mail[1] and Universal Circulating Herald both presented anti-Qing revolutionary ideas. Political columnist Wang Tao's anti-Qing column in the Herald incited more of the sort in local newspapers. The local papers also reported news from Mainland China, which further fuelled patriotism.

Thinkers in Hong Kong


Hong Kong cultivated the ideas of thinkers including Sun, Wang, Kang Youwei, He Qi and Hu Liyuan.



'Deng Yin'nan, a noted revolutionary, followed Sun to Hong Kong in 1896. Deng was born in Guangzhou, later migrated after 1871 and became an American citizen. Deng became close friends with Sun Yet San's older brother and later got involved, and heavily funded in the revolution in the early days against the Qing government. Deng often travelled back and forth between Guangzhou and Hong Kong to lead the Revolution uprisings in 1900(Wei Zhou Uprising); 1902 (Guang Zhou, but there was an intelligence leak); 1911(Shen An Yuen). Deng built a 'white mud fort' in Yuen Long, Hong Kong as a hideout for the protection of revolutionaries. The building is still standing. Deng passed away in Macau on 5th February, 1923. Sun Yet San granted him the honourary title of Army General. Deng's grave and memorial plaque is currently still standing in Guangzhou, Dong Zhao, Da Bao Gong, Qing Long Fang. A painting at the Sun Yet San Museum in Taiwan has Deng's name and image painted amongst the many Revolutionaries.

In 1900, Li Jitang, a rich Hongkonger, after being recommended by Xie Zhantai,[2] saw Yang Quyun,[3] and immediately joined the Revive China Society. When Sun saw Li in June, he was very pleased as Li was the first Hongkonger to fund the revolution since 1895. Sun made him the Hong Kong Financial Manager. Li went on to provide for years most of the expenses of the Revolution. He never failed any requests from Chen Shaobo, who headed the revolutionary activities in Hong Kong.

Later that year, Shi Jianru learnt about explosives from Deng, so Shi, with Deng's help, tried to rise up against Qing in Guangzhou, but failed. Shi died. In 1901, Yang was killed, so Hong Quanfu, a relative of noted rebel Hong Xiuquan, and Xie plotted another Guangzhou uprising. It failed because they were betrayed.

Between 1901 and 1902, Li bought the Castle Peak Farm and a shop, 青山棧, to increase income. The farm also provided a hideout for the revolutionaries and a place to test and practice using weapons and explosives. The farm had poor transport and was far away from the city centre so it was ideal as a hideout. Deng was among those who moved in.



After the Boxer Protocol





  1. Not to be confused with The China Mail, which was an English-language newspaper.
  2. Also romanised as Tse Tsan-tai.
  3. Also romanised as Yeung Ku-wan.


This is an index of terms, people, events, etc., that were mentioned in the book.

Term Chapter
Alexander the Great Prehistoric times (1, 2)
Baiyue culture Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Big Wave Bay Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Caesar, Julius Prehistoric times
Cheung Chau Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Eastern Jin Imperial years
Fuklos, the Imperial years
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Imperial years
Hakkas, the Imperial years
Han Dynasty Imperial years
Hoklos, the Imperial years
historic times Prehistoric times
Lamma Island Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Legislative Council Introduction
Ma Wan Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Ma Wan people Prehistoric times > Stone Age
mesolithic Prehistoric times
Metal Ages Prehistoric times
Middle Stone Age, the Prehistoric times
Mind Dynasty Imperial years
neolithic Prehistoric times
New Stone Age, the Prehistoric times
Northern and Southern Dynasties Imperial years
Northern Song Dynasty Imperial years
Old Stone Age, the Prehistoric times
Opium Wars Introduction (1, 2)
paleolithic Prehistoric times
Patten, Chris Introduction
prehistoric times, the Prehistoric times
Po Toi Island Prehistoric times > Stone Age
primary source Introduction
Puntis, the Imperial years
Qujiang Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Qing Dynasty Imperial years
Qin Shihuangdi Prehistoric times
rock carvings Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Sai Kung Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Sha Ha Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Sham Wan Prehistoric times > Stone Age
secondary source Introduction
Shang Dynasty Prehistoric times
Song Dynasty Imperial years
Southern Song Dynasty Imperial years
Stone Age, the Prehistoric times
Sui Dynasty Imperial years
Tang Dynasty Imperial years
Tang of Shang Prehistoric times
Tankas, the Imperial years
Three Kingdoms Imperial years
Tuen Mun Imperial years
Tung Lung Island Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Western Jin Dynasty Imperial years
Yang Jian Imperial years
Yuan Dynasty Imperial years
Zhu Jiang Prehistoric times > Stone Age
Zhu Jiang Delta, the Prehistoric times > Stone Age


This is a list of references that the book uses. All additions must be formatted with citation templates such as {{cite news}}, {{cite book}} and {{cite web}} to make sure the citation format is consistent. Open up a new section for each module.

  • Haugen, Peter (2009). World History For Dummies. For Dummies. Wiley. ISBN 9780470446546.
  • 蕭, 國健 (May 1990). 香港前代社會 'The Society of Hong Kong of Previous Dynasties' (in Traditional Chinese) (2nd ed.). Hong Kong: Zhonghua Book Company. ISBN 9622317448.

Note: these books are cited either in the introduction only or are used throughout the section.

  • Kan, Nelson YY; Tang, Miranda KL (2007). New Journey Through History. Vol. 1A. Aristo Education Press LTD. ISBN 9789624698978.
  • 梁, 一鳴; 葉, 小兵; 王, 耘. 互動中國歷史 'Interactive Chinese History' (in Traditional Chinese). Vol. 1 (3rd ed.). Hong Kong: Manhattan Press. ISBN 9789882083912.
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  • Kan, Nelson YY; Tang, Miranda KL (2007). New Journey Through History. Vol. 1A. Aristo Education Press LTD. ISBN 9789624698978.
  • "Annex I Listing of Declared Monuments". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  • 蕭, 國健 (October 1995). 香港古代史 'Ancient History of Hong Kong' (in Traditional Chinese) (2nd ed.). Hong Kong: Zhonghua Book Company. ISBN 9622318606.
  • 劉, 智鵬 (March 2007). 屯門歷史與文化 'Tuen Mun's History and Culture' (in Traditional Chinese) (1st ed.). Hong Kong: Tuen Mun District Council. ISBN 9789889732929.
  • 蕭, 國健 (May 1990). 香港前代社會 'The Society of Hong Kong of Previous Dynasties' (in Traditional Chinese) (2nd ed.). Hong Kong: Zhonghua Book Company. ISBN 9622317448.
  • 陳, 天權 (2010). 香港歷史系列 (in Traditional Chinese). Hong Kong: Ming Pao. ISBN 9789888081783. {{cite book}}: Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Morris, Jan (1993) [1988]. Hong Kong (2nd ed.). England: Penguin. ISBN 9780141001296. {{cite book}}: |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  • 周, 子峰 (2010). 圖解香港史. 圖解系列 (in Traditiaonl Chinese) (1st ed.). Hong Kong: Zhonghua Book Company. ISBN 9789628930937. {{cite book}}: |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  • 劉, 智鵬 (March 2007). "革命勝跡". 屯門歷史與文化 'Tuen Mun's History and Culture' (in Traditional Chinese) (1st ed.). Hong Kong: Tuen Mun District Council. p. 102–113. ISBN 9789889732929.