cover image A Borrowed Place: The History of Hong Kong

A Borrowed Place: The History of Hong Kong

Frank Welsh / Author, Gordon Wise / Editor Kodansha America $3

In this deeply researched but sterile history of the British crown colony, Welsh describes how Hong Kong became a trading and commercial center after its inception during the 1839-1842 Opium War and gives a straightforward account of the British entrepreneurs and their accumulation of wealth. The narrative is focused almost entirely on British rather than Chinese interests. Welsh chronicles periodic scandals involving the opium trade, prostitution, gambling and corruption that often led to quarrels between colonial governors, civil servants, goverment departments and the community. He describes conditions in the colony during the WW II Japanese military occupation and the postwar effect of Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the 1989 massacre in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Welsh predicts that the handover of Hong Kong to Beijing in 1997 will be accomplished without a serious hitch. ``To any British government,'' he concludes, ``Hong Kong will remain a peripheral concern.'' A former international banker, Welsh is the author of Building a Trireme. Photos. (Oct.)