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Lets talk about colonization.|
Originally posted by schreiber at 2007-7-22 12:59
Mengzhi, you mean colonization like in Tibet, right? You mean exploitation as in rampant corruption or demanding sole recognition in exchange for diplomatic ties? Perhaps you refer to humiliating w ...
I'd like to talk about the glorious days of the British Empire beginning with the ventures of the East India Company around 1620, to the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. This period may seem too far away but with lasting impacts on societies around the world.
When I visited Britain, the superpower during that colonial period, I could not help wondering where did the riches go? Except for some treasures they took from other countries (Egypt, India and China) and kept in the museums, I could not see a significantly high level of living standard compared with other European countries which were not a colonial power.
Does that mean that Britain was moral and kind?
They colonized but never pilfered?
You have a child's heart if you believe so.
Here's my observations based on facts scattered everywhere for you to reflect.
1. Britain's colonial ventures were a joint project between the government and the business elites (e.g. East India Company, Jardine Matheson, Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, etc.) There was no need for popular support for ventures far away. The people wouldn't know it in the first place if the newspapers (another elite group) did not talk about it (Remember there were no TVs or Internet during that time). As a consequence, the population did not have the right to share the benefits of colonization. If you want to see the magnitudes of these benefits, just look at how the business elites live, their auctioning of world treasures which wound up in their homes, their country mansions, their investments overseas,etc. These are the facts for you to dig up. Especially, look at the salaries and retirement benefits for government and business officials who have worked in British colonies overseas.
2. The British people either don't care or are kept in the dark regarding their country' colonization overseas. When you talk to an average Britisher, he does not seem to know much about his country's glorious days as a result of colonization one or two generations ago. When Britain handed over Hong Kong in 1997, the Hong Kong press went to London and tried to get a sense of the popular mood by interviewing students and business people in the streets. Most of them did not know the handover event took place. Some expressed surprise to hear the question. Some even thought that Britain returned Hong Kong back to Japan! For the British people to know: Hong Kong is a big deal although it's a tiny dot on the map. HK was the most successful British colony, maybe the longest kept too (150 years). Certainly, HK had brought a lot of money to the British Treasury, to the business elites, and to a lot of English civil servants who had worked there before. All you need is to look at the HK government official records, the salary scales of English officials, the subsidized housing they got, and the retirement benefits they enjoyed. Remember the British colonial government in HK ran continuous huge surpluses every year, a clear sign that they were not spending the money where they earned. The money was deposited in the British Treasury and major banks. If you are a responsible English citizen, you should ask where did the surplus money go, if it did not go to serving the people.
[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-7-22 06:50 PM ]