Britons in Hong Kong
Britons never made up more than a small portion of the population in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, despite the fact that Hong Kong was under British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 rule for more than 150 years. However, they did leave their mark on institutions, culture
Culture of Hong Kong
The culture of Hong Kong can best be described as a foundation that began with China, and became more influenced by British colonialism. Despite the 1997 transfer of sovereignty to the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong continues to hold an identity of its own.-People in the culture:Most Hong...

 and Architecture of Hong Kong
Architecture of Hong Kong
The Architecture of Hong Kong features great emphasis on Contemporary architecture, specially Modernism, Postmodernism, Functionalism, etc. Due to the lack of available land, few historical buildings remain in the urban areas of Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong has become a centre for modern...

. The British population in Hong Kong today consists largely of career expats
An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing...

 working in bank
A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

ing, education, real estate
Real estate
In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

, law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 and consultancy
A consultant is a professional who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area such as management, accountancy, the environment, entertainment, technology, law , human resources, marketing, emergency management, food production, medicine, finance, life management, economics, public...

, as well as a large number of British-born Chinese
British Chinese
British Chinese , including British-born Chinese are people of Chinese ancestry who were born in, or have migrated to, the United Kingdom. They are part of the Chinese diaspora, or overseas Chinese...

, Chinese émigré
Émigré is a French term that literally refers to a person who has "migrated out", but often carries a connotation of politico-social self-exile....

s who have returned, and a few former British Dependent Territories citizens of non-Chinese origin, who were granted full British citizenship to prevent them from becoming stateless
Statelessness is a legal concept describing the lack of any nationality. It is the absence of a recognized link between an individual and any state....

 after the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong.

Holders of British National (Overseas)
British National (Overseas)
British National , commonly known as BN, is one of the major classes of British nationality under British nationality law. Holders of this nationality are British nationals and Commonwealth citizens, but not British Citizens...

 (BN(O)) passports in Hong Kong may be considered Britons, because BN(O) is one of the six categories of British nationality, and it is officially and legally guaranteed by the UK. However, holders of the passport do not automatically have the right of abode in the UK; furthermore, the People's Republic of China does not recognise BN(O) passport holders to be British nationals.


Estimating the number of Britons in Hong Kong, as with all Asian cities, can be difficult for a variety of reasons. First, not all immigrants
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

 or visitors register with the British Consulate
Consul (representative)
The political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries...

 in Hong Kong. Next, the population is largely transitory, working in the city for only a few months or years. Moreover, the British Government granted full citizenship
British nationality law and Hong Kong
British nationality law as it pertains to Hong Kong has been unusual ever since Hong Kong became a British colony in 1842. From its beginning as a sparsely populated trading port to today's cosmopolitan international financial centre of over seven million people, the territory has attracted...

 to a significant number of ethnic Chinese people in Hong Kong under the British Nationality Selection Scheme
British Nationality Selection Scheme
The British Nationality Selection Scheme was a process used to grant British citizenship to selected persons in Hong Kong between 1990 and 1997.-Basis of the scheme:...

 in the 1990s and it is unclear that whether this number should be included when estimating the number of Britons in HK.

The Immigration Department of Hong Kong estimated that there were nearly 22,000 British citizens living in Hong Kong during the transfer of sovereignty
Transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong
The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China, referred to as ‘the Return’ or ‘the Reunification’ by the Chinese and ‘the Handover’ by others, took place on 1 July 1997...

 in 1997. However, a large percentage of these are British-born Chinese, émigrés and ethnic Chinese who obtained full British citizenship under the British Nationality Selection Scheme
British Nationality Selection Scheme
The British Nationality Selection Scheme was a process used to grant British citizenship to selected persons in Hong Kong between 1990 and 1997.-Basis of the scheme:...

 in Hong Kong. Other sources give numbers from 16,000 to 28,000.

In any case, there have been noticeably fewer native Britons emigrating to Hong Kong since the handover. The drop can be attributed to several factors. When Hong Kong was a British colony, Britons did not have to go through the same immigration and visa
Visa (document)
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...

 procedures to live and work in Hong Kong, and it was quite common for young working-class Britons to go to Hong Kong to work, particularly during economic downturns in Britain. This advantage ended with the handover, and Britons must now prove they have jobs and that those jobs cannot be filled by local residents. This means blue collar jobs such as retail or construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 are largely no longer an option for Britons in Hong Kong. In addition, a large proportion of British government employees left following the handover (although the localisation policy in effect in Hong Kong since 1984 had reduced these to a fraction of its total 184,000 employees).


The first British presence in the area was the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

, which started trading in the area in 1699 and set up a trading post
Trading post
A trading post was a place or establishment in historic Northern America where the trading of goods took place. The preferred travel route to a trading post or between trading posts, was known as a trade route....

 in Canton
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

 in 1711. The British captured Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island is an island in the southern part of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It has a population of 1,289,500 and its population density is 16,390/km², as of 2008...

 in 1841 during the First Opium War
First Opium War
The First Anglo-Chinese War , known popularly as the First Opium War or simply the Opium War, was fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing Dynasty of China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice...

 and were officially ceded
The act of Cession, or to cede, is the assignment of property to another entity. In international law it commonly refers to land transferred by treaty...

 the territory in 1842 under the Treaty of Nanking
Treaty of Nanking
The Treaty of Nanking was signed on 29 August 1842 to mark the end of the First Opium War between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Qing Dynasty of China...

. Britons came in relatively large numbers to work in the colony's administration as well as trading houses and merchant bank
Merchant bank
A merchant bank is a financial institution which provides capital to companies in the form of share ownership instead of loans. A merchant bank also provides advisory on corporate matters to the firms they lend to....

s, along with other Europeans and Americans
Americans in Hong Kong
There were estimated to be 60,000 Americans in Hong Kong . They consist of both native-born Americans of various ethnic backgrounds, including Chinese Americans, as well as former Hong Kong emigrants to the United States who returned after gaining American citizenship. Most Americans in Hong Kong...

. Before the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong
Transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong
The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China, referred to as ‘the Return’ or ‘the Reunification’ by the Chinese and ‘the Handover’ by others, took place on 1 July 1997...

, many Britons and part-British Eurasians emigrated to United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and/or to approximate Commonwealth countries
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 such as Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

. This repeated after Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty to China, aside from they returned to United Kingdom.

See also

  • Colonial Hong Kong
    Colonial Hong Kong
    In the 19th century the British, Dutch, French, Indians and Americans saw Imperial China as the world's largest untapped market. In 1840 the British Empire launched their first and one of the most aggressive expeditionary forces to claim the territory that would later be known as Hong Kong.In a few...

  • Demographics of Hong Kong
    Demographics of Hong Kong
    This article is about the demographic features of the population of Hong Kong, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population....

  • Gweilo
    Gweilo or Gwailo is a common Cantonese slang term for foreigners, and has a long history of racially deprecatory use. If there is some racially deprecatory meaning or it is expressive of hate, it is shown by the addition of the adjective, sei or as a prefix: seigwailo...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.