How we changed into an Asia Tiger

City Talk | 23 Aug 2016

The 1950s in Hong Kong began against a backdrop of the resumption of British colonial rule after the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong ended in 1945, and the renewal of the Kuomintang- Communist civil war in the mainland.

The latter prompted a large influx of refugees from the mainland, causing the population to more than triple from 600,000 to 2.1 million.

The government, of course, struggled to accommodate these refugees, but Hong Kong later enjoyed an economic revival based on light industries such as textiles in the 1950s, partly thanks to the presence of a cheap labor force made up of these very same people.

In the 1960s, severe riots broke out, mainly instigated by followers of the Cultural Revolution. This unrest in the mainland also prompted businesses to relocate their assets and capital from Shanghai to Hong Kong.

This two-pronged influx of immigrants and capital was what laid the seeds for Hong Kong's economic miracle in the second half of the 20th century.

However, social discontent and labor disputes became rife among the poorly paid workforce.

Living conditions improved and social unrest subsided in the late 1960s.

Hong Kong continued with the development and expansion of its manufacturing base that began in the previous decade.

That saw the number of factories increase, from 3,000 in the 1950s to 10,000 in the 1960s. The number of foreign firms rose too, from 300 to 500. There were demands for labor in every sector of the economy.

Hong Kong was established as an Asian Tiger economy in the 70s.

Being one of the region's economic powerhouses, it had a thriving economy based on high-technology industries.

Hong Kong in the 1970s underwent many changes that shaped its future, led for most of the decade by its longest- serving and reform-minded government.

Economically, it reinvented itself as a financial center after being a manufacturing base. The market also began leaning toward corporations and franchises. All this happened in period five (1944-1963) and period six (1964-1983).

The most significant stage of Hong Kong history was in the feng shui period seven between 1983 and 2003, when foreign direct investment became a norm and Hong Kong established itself as one of the best financial centers in the world.

That such a tiny place as Hong Kong became significant is due to its strategic location and also its feng shui. However, the constant reclamation that has narrowed Victoria Harbour, coupled with the changing of the feng shui period means its significance is fading fast.

Kerby Kuek has published 15 books on feng shui, inner alchemy, Taoism and metaphysics. He can be contacted at

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