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Chinese History Anecdotes About HK Past Governors

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The first Opium War ended with the defeat of China. Since the 17th century, the British began running opium to China and Hong Kong gradually became one important transferring point used by the British to transfer opium to China. Now let me introduce to you a few of the past governors of Hong Kong, picked out from among the twenty-eight ones, who were people of every description.

The governor of the shortest term of office

Sir Henry Pottinger

The first governor was Sir Henry Pottinger. He held the position only for ten months, and for this reason he was called the governor of the shortest term of office. He laid down the foundation for Hong Kong to become later the administrative, military, and commercial center of Britain in the Far East and established the Administrative and Legislative Departments at the same time. On the other hand, he transformed Hong Kong into the chief transfer station of the British opium traffic and enabled opium to flow into China's mainland in tremendous quantities, with the result that British opium dealers earned an enormous amount of silver, which might be said to be stained with the blood of the Chinese people, and the life and health of the Chinese population were seriously jeopardized.

The governor most resourceful for advertizing

Sir George Ferguson Bowen

The ninth governor Sir George Ferguson Bowen was skilled in advertising. He gave Hong Kong the well-known nickname of the Strait of Gibraltar in the East, by which he meant that Hong Kong would become an important commercial port of Great Britain next only to London. Owing to the fact that Hong Kong maintained neutrality in the following Sino-French War it gradually became an entrepot in international trade.

The most ridiculous governor
When the twelfth governor sir Henry Arthur Blake was in office, pestilence frequently occurred in Hong Kong. People in medical circles

sir Henry Arthur Blake

thought that the chief culprit was the hateful rat. Therefore, Blake waged a campaign to destroy rats and promised to give a "liberal" reward of two silver dollars for each rat captured and killed. As a result, the government "bought" a total number of forty-three thousand rats in one year. It was discovered later, however, that the majority of these rats, as a matter of fact, had been smuggled into Hong Kong from other places. They were not "original inhabitants" of Hong Kong but "illegal immigrants".

The most unlucky governor

Sir Mark Atchison

The twenty-first governor Sir Mark Atchison Young may be said to have been the most unfortunate governor of Hong Kong in history. No sooner had he taken over the post than Hong Kong fell into Japanese hands and he became a captive. He passed many dark days in a concentration camp. After Hong Kong was recovered from the enemy, people sought for him everywhere in the city but in vain. It was supposed that he had been killed by the Japanese Army. Later, Britain received a notice from the Soviet Union, which said that after the Soviet Army invaded into the northeast part of China the soldiers discovered by accident an Englishman in a concentration camp. Upon investigation, they learned that he was no other than the governor of Hong Kong M.A. Young. Thus his captive life came to an end.

The most prestigious and ostentatious governor
The twenty-fifth governor Crawford Murray MacLehose was the governor of Hong Kong who was in office for the longest period and enjoyed the most

Crawford Murray MacLehose

prestige and ostentation. The ten years of his administration has been praised by his supporters as the "ten golden years" of Hong Kong. On the basis of economic prosperity, he did his utmost to transform Hong Kong into an international financial center. Apart from this, he set up the Independent Commission against Corruption to hit the corrupt morals that prevailed in public affairs and wreaked havoc with the people's life and business. He also established the Housing Commission and formulated a ten-year housing plan, which brought benefit to many citizens. As for his ostentation, his career as the governor of Hong Kong for ten years not only made him a well-known political figure but also brought him a lot of money, which made him a wealthy man in people's eyes. According to someone's calculation, his ten-years' salary totaled three million and four hundred thousand HK dollars; in addition to this, he had recreation subsidies, and he was the only person in Hong Kong who did not need to pay income tax. His residence, servants and chauffeurs were paid for by the government. Furthermore, he was entitled to a sizable pension after retirement. It may be said with assurance that though he could not be counted among the richest people in Britain, he would be able to spend his old age in great comfort.

Hong Kong Protocol Mansion

In 1845, the Hong Kong British government decided to build the governor's official residence, and the construction work was accomplished in 1855. In 1890, the government again appropriated forty thousand dollars for the extension of the building and added a wing to it, which was to be used as the banquet hall. Of the twenty-eight past governors of Hong Kong, twenty-five have used this building as their official residence and office for doing work. During the period of Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in the Second World War, the building was reconstructed by the Japanese with one tower added to it between the main building and the wing, so that the building became of today's appearance and magnitude.

The Hong Kong Government house has been renamed the Hong Kong Protocol Mansion and has been designated as a historic site according to the "Rules for Objects and Places of Historic Interest".

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