The Impact of Colonialism on Hong Kong

Carrol emphasizes that in 1943, British officials started to develop a plan that would help Hong Kong recover after the war. Many journalists and academics often weep the recent eolation of political liberties in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, they do not see the new attempts in Hong Kong to ensure that the colony does not become another part of China. I agree with Carrol for several reasons. It is possible to notice that parents in China are fighting for government’s instructions to focus more on Chinese schools instead of English ones. The reason for this is that they are afraid that their children will be less competitive in the international market. The new government are trying to find various methods to keep Hong Kong as a separate entity. Under British colonialism, Chinese formed different social clubs in order to improve their quality of life. These clubs are mainly formed by Chinese bourgeoisie, and the community start to become more diverse.

 

As the economic status of Hong Kong constantly improved starting from the late 1950s, the separation between the wealthy and the poor grew bigger. The society of Hong Kong became so segregated and complex that the custom, informal network broke down. People, who were not able to benefit from the prosperity of the greater society, needed to be cared for either by their family members or by the society itself. The colonial government, faced with great pressure to maintain economic growth, at the same time, experienced the same pressure to solve social problems for the destitute. The colonial government confirmed that it was not until the late 1960s that the increasing economic prosperity, which had emerged from the quick and successful industrialization, enabled a transition from the provision of primary relief services toward more sophisticated social services. The government also acknowledged that even though some of these higher-level services were offered during the late 1940s, the elaboration of these services was slow because of the increase in population and insufficiency of materials to handle the problem. The structured development of social welfare in Hong Kong is a comparatively recent phenomenon. The colonial government formally began to work on the extension of social welfare in 1965, when it published its first White Paper on social welfare in the middle of fast and sequential economic growth. Still, the colonial government chose a relatively conservative method of devising its social welfare policy. The philosophy of providing social services to native people in need was distinctly written in that White Paper. During the last 20 years of the colonial age, Hong Kong’s economic growth had almost quadrupled. Hong Kong celebrated an average yearly growth rate of about 7 percent in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Hong Kong outmatched the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations. Moreover, Hong Kong’s GDP per capita, estimated to be approximately 24,000 dollars in 1997, tripled, which is identical to an average yearly growth rate of 5 percent. It was the third highest value in Asia, next only to Japan and Singapore, surpassing that of the Great Britain, Canada, Australia and France. Hong Kong had finally reached a full-employment condition more or less. The workforce as a whole benefited from this reputable economic performance through a constant growth in revenue. The monthly household revenue persistently increased between 1991 and 1996, and the median monthly domestic household revenues had put up approximately 75 percent during that period. The prolonged positive economic growth had a great influence on the colonial government’s social policy. Christopher Patten became the Governor of the island in 1992. He characterized the aftermath of this economic growth in a speech to the Legislative Council. Patten said that it had created jobs and increased salaries and wages for people. It was important since full employment and decent income were the single most significant factor in governing the welfare of local families. He pointed out that continuous economic growth since 1961 had created the resources to pay for acceptable facilities for the deprived, the disadvantaged and the disabled. Respectively, the colonial government held a Keynesian view that as long as a potent economic growth could be retained, there would be many work places on a broad front, and every laborer, including the most unskilled ones, would have many advantages to benefit from. Salaries at all levels would be raised; they would also be higher in a tight labor market. Thus, the growth factor behind a trickle-down effect from the rich to the poorest employees was anticipated. The quality of life of Hong Kong’s population, including the most deprived sectors, would theoretically be upgraded by the society’s increasing economic prosperity; therefore, with such a trickle-down theory and the philosophy of budgeting in accordance with income, the government chose to grant services created to meet the most basic needs of the underprivileged individuals. 

In 1841, approximately 7,450 people were living on the island. In 1997, it turned into a world-known contemporary metropolis, comprising more than six million people. The political, social, and economic development of Hong Kong is in a great stage of evolution. The colonial government fulfilled its duties in creating social services for the underprivileged. Social and welfare services are one of the best examples of how the colonial government meets the basic needs of its population. Thanks to a variety of factors, such as good government management and budgeting, an attitude of enterprise, satisfying capital, corresponding management skills, affluent investment possibilities, and contemporary technical know-how, Hong Kong has turned into a wealthy city. Since the 1970s, Hong Kong has grown to be one of the most flourishing cities in the world. The following economic success noticeably widened the colonial government’s financial power to elaborate the necessary materials that would tackle the social problems. Achievements in social and welfare services were some of the results of the colonial government’s effort. Still, taking into account the long waiting lists and the colonial-age conservative technique in elaborating welfare policies, there is an opportunity for the HKSAR government to improve the lot for its people. The colonial government often argued that many of social and economic problems of Hong Kong had their origins in the huge influx of refugees. They pointed out that a majority of these refugees were poorly educated and had few or no labor skills. As long as the total population increases constantly and rapidly, this view remains, and inevitably there will be great disparities between the poor and the rich in terms of distribution of income and wealth. Of course, population is not the only factor that has caused the greatly unequal distribution of income. Other factors are important in explaining the proportional distribution of the income pyramid. These include: industrial productivity, market structure, family background, labor market, individual capability, personal motivation, proficiency and incentives, as well as the government’s social, taxation, and economic policies. The historical review of social programs and expenditures indicates that there have been many changes since 1997. Adverse social and economic developments have greatly disrupted the social harmony and stability of Hong Kong. The HKSAR government faced a per capita GDP problem in 1998 and 2001. The unemployment and underemployment levels grew steadily until recently. The median monthly domestic household income declined between 1996 and 2006. The disparity between the rich and the poor has widened. Public social security expenditure has quickly increased while the amount of money allocated to support NGOs’ services has dropped sharply. Next, the government has cut its expenditure on public housing in recent years. The community has seen a steady growth in low paying jobs, with little future and a couple of advantages, for badly educated, less-skillful middle-aged laborers. Older workers are compelled to retire. In general, there is an ongoing erosion of well-paid jobs for the workforce. Younger workers’ dream of maintaining a decent family life with appropriate income and older workers’ dream of a self-sufficient old age have progressively vanished with the decline in job security. The number of breadwinners to help family members has slowly but steadily weakened because of the unsteady income, longer working hours, insufficiency of job security, and miserable chances for job advancement. As mentioned above, the HKSAR government anticipates the people to take care of themselves, or, if not, families will satisfy the needs of their members. Some scholars have argued that in an industrial society, when there are needs to be met, the extended family might not be there or have the capacity to meet its members’ needs. The society should provide social services to help people in need. With this logical argument in mind, it is easy to realize that the government has raised its expenditure on social welfare drastically since 1997 as a result of the negative impact of the Asian financial crisis. However, the post-1997 development of social welfare in the first decade seems to be more concentrated on the restructuring of the funding mechanism, the tripartite format of offering welfare programs, and the cost-effectiveness of the service provided. The initiation of the debatable competitive bidding system has turned long-time partnership of local non-governmental organizations with the Social Welfare Department into a contractual relationship. The Social Welfare Department tries to create collaboration among the government, the business segment and the field of social services as a new route in social welfare development has brought much uncertainty among professional employees. Under the increased financial restraint and a stronger sense of public scrutiny, the HKSAR government has activated its efforts to find value in money it spends. The government assumes that nowadays it is not justifiable merely to provide some public services to needy people. The public services should be delivered efficiently, effectively, and with good quality. A drive to improve the cost-effectiveness as well as the quality of services via market forces, through contractual means, is under way. The Department’s latest effort in setting up the Service Performance Monitory System, the Service Quality Standards, and the Funding and Service Agreement has changed the mode of delivering services to needy people. Professional employees are forced to work towards meeting individual welfare program’s indicators. Likewise, the Social Welfare Department’s crucial plan for commercializing social welfare services in the name of promoting value for money has gradually smashed up the morale of social workers. Social workers are worried about the inevitable change of their professional client-helper relationship into a profit-oriented shopkeeper-customer relationship. The Social Welfare Department’s move has had a considerable impact on the professional philosophies, principles, world views, beliefs, and values connected with serving the underprivileged. The practice of delivering specialized services to weak groups has changed, and the change is unprecedented and drastic. The majority of social workers have to leave the client-well-being-oriented approach and shift to a commercial indicator-oriented approach. In order to keep their own positions, as well as to sustain the survival of their agencies, some social employees have to use their professional knowledge to create profit-making programs. Complaints can be heard and conflicts can be resolved with the help of various service sectors. On top of that, the Social Welfare Department’s latest policy of enforcing lump sum grant funding is slowly but increasingly having an impact on the traditional subvention system. In accordance with the latest public policy requirements, the open tender practice and the new quality control demands the service providers to make local non-governmental organizations change their patterns of program planning and development. It is unknown whether the colonial government’s experience in developing social welfare services will turn into a valuable asset for the HKSAR government that would meet its new and greater challenges in the planning and provision of social welfare services.

In conclusion, colonialism positively impacted Hong Kong and its people. It is possible to trace several economic, political, and social changes that improve the well-being of the island.

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Nov 1, 2019 in Socioligy
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