By Stephanie P.Y. Chung

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Additional resources for Chinese Business Groups in Hong Kong and Political Change in South China, 1900–25

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With the abolition of 20 (out of a total of 33) foreign concessions between 1927 and 1930, and with the termination of the jurisdiction of the mixed court in Shanghai in 1930, Hong Kong became even more important for those Chinese who wanted to escape Chinese jurisdiction. 14 Chinese Business Groups and Political Change Nevertheless, by singling out British Hong Kong as an important safe haven to which merchant groups escaped from the infringements of the Chinese bureaucracy, it is perhaps incorrect to say that a public sphere was created by the mercantile community active in the Canton–Hong Kong region.

By 1891, this population had increased almost 30 fold and reached 217 000. 1 These Chinese immigrants brought with them to the British colony their own social and political institutions, as well as their cultural identity. 2 Unlike many stateless colonial societies in Asia and Africa, China had a readily available concept of nationhood, and the migrants from China carried this concept with them when they moved overseas. Chinese people in Hong Kong identified themselves politically with China and not with British Hong Kong, and the political arena that attracted their attention and participation was not the one that existed in the colony, but the one in turmoil in China.

In other words, a ‘public sphere’ or a ‘civil society’ could not be found in Republican China. The relationship between merchants and the state in China was actually, and probably still is, a patronage system. The ‘Political Aspirations’ of Hong Kong Chinese By focusing on the careers of two competing groups of Chinese merchants in Hong Kong who vied for political influence in Guangdong politics, this book touches on a popular argument developed in the existing literature of Hong Kong studies. This is an argument centered on an issue generally described as the ‘political apathy’ of the Hong Kong Chinese.

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