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HKFP History: ‘Happy Birthday’ to modern Hong Kong – 177 years old today

It is an event that neither Hong Kong, China nor Britain are likely to be celebrating. Nevertheless, on this day – January 26 – in 1841, the British flag was first unfurled at Possession Point by Royal Navy sailors.

possession street

Photo: Chris Needos.

At the time, Hong Kong was a sleepy backwater – home to around 7,450 Tanka and Hakka people. However, it would prove to be a handy trading outpost.

First Opium War, via Wikicommons

First Opium War, via Wikicommons

“Albert is so amused at my having got the island of Hong Kong”, wrote Queen Victoria in 1841.

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The Convention of Chuenpee ceded the island to the British after the First Opium War, in which 600 Chinese soldiers died.

Map of Hong Kong, 1841 - surveyed by Captain Edward Belcher

Map of Hong Kong, 1841 – surveyed by Captain Edward Belcher. Belcher began surveying the islands a year earlier.

Within five months, British officials began selling land in Hong Kong and the territory formally became a British possession a year later.

Possession Point in the early 20th century

Possession Point in the early 20th century.

Possession Point was originally named Tai Hang Hau, or “Big Puddle”. The area was redeveloped into a Chinese-style garden which is today known as Hollywood Road park.

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HKFP History: 'Happy Birthday' to modern Hong Kong – 177 years old today