Dynamic Hong Kong: from a post-colonial city to a post-metropolis
Part 1. Introduction
Hong Kong, once a British colony after the wars, has been well-known as a vibrant metropolitan. After 99 years of British rule, Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1 July 1997. After a long period of western culture instillation, Hongkongers remain confused about their identity in the recent 16 years of post-colonial period. This struggle in identity can be reflected from the city's cultural, economic and social components, that characterize the city as a 'post-colonial' city. On the other hand, Hong Kong being one of international port cities in Asia, has been playing a vital role in the global financial market. Relying heavily on international investment, flux of global travelers and migrants have been constantly shaping the cities' landscape. Thus, the city can also be explained by the post-metropolis model. This paper aims to demonstrate how each model, post-colonial and post-metropolis, could explain the city in different parts. Examples and proofs would be provided from a very local angle, as the author has been living in the city for over 20 years. Finally, this paper closes with the idea of transformation of models in Hong Kong, together with the difficulties in fitting cities into one rigid model and criticism on the representation of the models.
Part 2. The Postcolonial city model
Definition of terms
The term 'postcolonial' has been interpreted in various ways to represent cities. Such a jargon can be understood as simply as "those cities in what were previously colonial societies (King, 2009)". However, Yeoh (2001) argued that the notion could not be that simple and clearly defined but the it can be useful to answer questions about the ways cities resist and being framed by its colonial period. Thus, King (2009) also further interpreted the term as 'a particular critique which not only emphasizes the distinctive impact which colonialism has had on the economy, society, culture, spatial form and architecture of the city but also on the way the city itself is understood and represented." Hence, in the following sections, Hong Kong will be analyzed from various representations, namely its spatial form, education and citizens' identity.
Background of Hong Kong
Under the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by the Chinese and the British government in 1984, Hong Kong was returned to China with a 'one country, two systems' political structure after 99-year of British rule. China resumed its sovereignty over Hong Kong, but Hong Kong retains a high degree of autonomy. Yet, the return did not immediately 'decolonize' Hong Kong from its former colonizer. Instead, the continuity of preoccupation can be observed in different levels of the city, which characterize Hong Kong as a post-colonial city (Childs and Wiliiams, 1997). Yeoh (2001) also explained that "the postcolonial city traces continuity rather than disjuncture from its colonial predecessor in the nature and quality of social encounters"
Colonialization is often seen as 'destruction of local culture and extraction of resources by the colonizer through all sorts of violence (Fong, 2001)' The definition is adequate to explain the case of Africa under the British rule. However, Hong Kong has always been classified as a new kind of beast under colonization. While a lot of African postcolonial cities are characterized by the idea of racial liberation, Hong Kong seems to be merging well with its role of 'International' city and making use of 'westernization' to create a multicultural/ national market which attracted enormous foreign businessmen (Ashcroft, 1998).
Hong Kong is described as an unique postcolonial city, as a result not of assuming independence and local sovereignty but of a 'return' or 'handover' back to China (King, 2009). To quote the chief secretary for HKSAR, Mrs Anson Chan, the transition beyond colonial rule is about identity not sovereignty...
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