Jonathan Mirsky

Stealing the Crown’s Jewel

The Fall of Hong Kong: Britain, China and the Japanese Occupation

By

Yale University Press 384pp £25 order from our bookshop

WHILE MARSHALLING AN exciting narrative out of mostly first-hand sources, Philip Snow makes one great point: British rule in Hong Kong never recovered from the four-year Japanese occupation. The conquerors, brutal though they were, used their newspapers to condemn colonial rule and its relegation of almost all Chinese and other ethnic groups to subservient positions. That elderly Chinese servants were redarlv hailed as ‘BOY!’ by their white masters sums up the Hong Kong &lemma and the need for the organisation Tokyo claimed as justification for its rule: the creation of the Greater East Asian CO-Prosperity Sphere. What the Japanese said rang true with many Chinese (and Indans, Burmese, and Indonesians), who despised their new rulers for their savagery but a”gr eed with what thev said about colonialism. The racism and snobbery of the British caused an important minority of their subjects in Hong Kong (and elsewhere in Asia) to collaborate with the Japanese.

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