The initial defeat of Britain by an Asian power in the Second World War marked a shift in China's attitudes towards British power, compounded by their own elevation in the post-war international system to one of the Big Five. British politicians 'remained acutely conscious of Hong Kong's vulnerability throughout the 1950s' and of the strategic reality that if China really 'wanted the return of Hong Kong then British rule was untenable'. Unlike the Hong Kong Regiment, which was an entirely local defence force, the Hong Kong Royal Naval Reserve (HKRNR) 'was liable to serve in any part of the world in the event of hostilities', with its personnel incorporated into the Royal Navy. A key justification for Hong Kong's naval force framed it within the discourse of the 'civilising mission' and empire development, emphasising the moral and social improvement that paternalistic Royal Navy instruction could bring to the colony's population.
During the Second World War, over 9,000 men from several colonies, protectorates and mandate territories fought for the British Empire. These forces represented a significant shift in naval policy towards the recruitment of colonial manpower at a time of distinct pressures on British imperialism. This book examines the impact of colonial naval forces, by analyzing the 'official' and 'subaltern' sources in the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, East Africa, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. The Trinidad Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (TRNVR) was formed to defend the island's oil supply to British oil-fired ships. The book also looks at the experience of the Cayman Islanders who volunteered to serve in the TRNVR. An East African case study focuses on Kenya and Zanzibar before and after the Second World War. The Kenya Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (KRNVR) was the first colonial naval force in the British Empire; local naval forces were also formed in Zanzibar and Tanganyika. In the analysis of Southeast Asia and the Malacca Straits, the book discusses, inter alia, origins of Malaya's naval forces, and analyses the issues of force expansion and 'Malaysianisation' during the Malayan Emergency and decolonisation. There was an initial reluctance on the Navy to recruit the Chinese, but with their overwhelming majority in Hong Kong, their enlistment in the Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (HKRNVR) was unavoidable. The post-war evolution of Hong Kong's naval force as it adjusted to the roles of Communist China's emergence and Britain's declining world are also examined.
This book collects eleven original essays in the cultural history of the British Empire since the eighteenth century. It is geographically capacious, taking in the United Kingdom, India, West Africa, Hong Kong, and Australia, as well as sites of informal British influence such as the Ottoman Empire and southern China. The book considers the ways in which British culture circulated within what John Darwin has called the British “world system”. In this, the book builds on existing imperial scholarship while innovating in several ways: it focuses on the movement of ideas and cultural praxis, whereas Darwin has focused mostly on imperial structures —financial, demographic, and military. The book examines the transmission, reception, and adaptation of British culture in the Metropole, the empire and informal colonial spaces, whereas many recent scholars have considered British imperial influence on the Metropole alone. It examines Britain's Atlantic and Asian imperial experiences from the eighteenth to the twentieth century together. Through focusing on political ideology, literary movements, material culture, marriage, and the construction of national identities, the essays demonstrate the salience of culture in making a “British World”.
Post-war Hong Kong was not merely an arena for developing capitalism, modernisation, and good governance; it was also a site for leisure. Above all, Hong Kong was described as a venue for male leisure. This included recreating institutions familiar from home, such as sport and clubs, and allowing a wider range of sexual opportunity than the UK did, even in an era of “permissiveness”. Commentators, including for example Ian Fleming, described Hong Kong as a place in which European and American men could enjoy easy access to Asian women’s bodies, thanks to the conjunction of poverty and a traditional desire of Asian women to please men. The archetype of such a woman was Richard Mason’s character Suzie Wong. Whereas the enjoyment of heterosexual opportunity required a moderate amount of discretion, homosexual liaisons—criminal offenses for most of the Colonial period—required virtual secrecy. The latter point is illustrated by the death of police inspector John MacLennan.
The discourse of unbridled capitalism in post-war Hong Kong
Post-warHongKong is well known for
its official commitment to free trade and laissez-faire , even if
in practice its government has been more than willing to intervene in
the economy in case of market failure, most famously in the development
of its public housing programme from the early 1950s onward. This benign
neglect has been widely credited with producing Hong Kong
Alexander Cordell (George Alexander Graber,) an English
civil servant who spent his childhood in China and some years in
post-warHongKong, tried more ambitiously to describe inter-racial
romance through the eyes of the Chinese girl. The Sinews of Love
(London, 1965), in which a Tanka boat girl falls in love with an
Englishman, portrayed the hard life of the boat people and particularly