Governing Hong Kong: Administrative Officers from the Nineteenth Century to the Handover to China, 1862-1997

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Description: Governing Hong Kong: Administrative Officers from the Nineteenth Century to the Handover to China, 1862-1997. Steve Tsang. LB. Tauris. 52.50. xii + 227 pages. ISBN 978-1-84511-525-8. Mr Tsang has established himself as a leading historian of Hong Kong. In his latest study he looks at the government of what started as 'a small outpost on the eastern periphery of the British Empire' and ended as the 'most successful British imperial possession'. The role of government was vital and even if it was less than admirable in its early years, by the end of the Victorian era it was much admired. The most important factor was the role of the administrative officers who made a 'huge difference' to local government. The key was their native ability, not academic excellence: One does not need the intellectually brightest individuals to provide good governance'. This elite avoided the 'corrosive effect of power corruption' through a strong esprit de corps. To Britain's credit, by 1997 most of the 500 officers were native Chinese. As Mr Tsang argues in this excellent study, there are lessons here for governments round the world and for those addicted to decrying 'colonialism'.
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