Anglo China houses5 and projecting massive port facilities55 The Island of Hong

Anglo china houses5 and projecting massive port

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Anglo-China houses,5 and projecting massive port facilities.55 ‘The Island of Hong Kong will be one of the most considerable marts for trade in British possession in the course of a few years,5 commented Robert Strachan, an agent of the prominent opium house Jardine Matheson & Co. ‘The people already are aware of the benefits they will derive from the change, and are most hospitable to those who go among them.556 Missionaries made plans to transfer their regional headquarters to this bridgehead to the Chinese mainland. Journalists and even officials began to describe the new city as the ‘Carthage of the East5, a ‘modern Tyre5, whose naked hills would soon be clothed ‘with a population equal to that of Ancient Rome.5 ‘Within six months of Hongkong being declared to have become a permanent British Colony,5 Pottinger predicted, ‘it will be a vast Emporium of Commerce and Wealth.557 The colonization of the island seemed to have taken on a momentum that could not be easily halted. Having, in August of that year, inserted the cession of Hong Kong to the British Crown in the Treaty of Nanjing, Pottinger acknowledged to the new Conservative Foreign Secretary, Lord Aberdeen, that this was the only single point in which I intentionally exceeded my (modified) instructions, but every hour I have passed in this superb country has convinced me of the necessity and desirability of our possessing such a settlement as an Emporium for our trade, and a place from which Her Majesty’s Subjects in China may be alike protected and controlled.58 Among the early European community in Hong Kong, this confusion of war aims gave rise first to euphoria. Then anxiety and disillusion followed. Official encouragement, the role of Hong Kong as a base of war operations in 1842, the air of permanence fostered by rapid immigration, land grants, extensive public works all encouraged merchants to invest heavily in the island in the belief that it was to be the main emporium for British trade in China. As the dust began to settle, the combination of war euphoria and uncertainty about British aims in the long interval between Hong Kong5s occupation in early 1841 and its confirmation as a permanent colony in late 1842 sustained a mixed mood of tense anxiety and feverish optimism about the island’s future role.59 Finally, sickness, recession and crime descended on Hong Kong during the latter part of this period, and the realization grew that, with the opening of five treaty ports, Hong Kong risked becoming superfluous to British interests provoked an equally extreme disillusion with the new colony. The idea also took root that a far more promising ‘capital of Anglo-China5 had been overlooked in the larger, more temperate, better placed island of Chusan. The disillusion began to sink in almost as soon as Hong Kong5s status as a permanent British colony became certain, and it lasted for most of the 1840s. The ‘respectable and affluent Chinese merchants5returned to Canton. The great stone warehouses built by European firms suddenly emptied. The political 33

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