|The name Hong Kong means in the Chinese language the "Fragrant Port". How did this place come to have such a beautiful name? There are several different legends about the origin of this name. The most reliable one according to popular opinion is that this place was once a port for the transit and distribution of incense, which is an aromatic substance, such as a gum or wood, that burns with a pleasant odor. During the Ming Dynasty, Dong Guan, Bao An (renamed Shen Zhen in 1979) and adjacent places produced in great abundance a kind of incense which appealed to great numbers of people and found markets in the Jiangsu province, the Zhejiang province, and many other regions of the country. Since incense merchants generally loaded their cargoes on ships at the northern part of the coast of this island to be sent to the Guangzhou city and the Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, people began to call this port the incense port. As the noun "incense" and the adjective "fragrant" are identical in the Chinese language, the port was considered later to mean a fragrant port, though it was connected only with the sale and transshipment of a commodity that had fragrance. The village in the vicinity of the port was likewise called the "Fragrant Port Village".
In 1840, the Opium War broke out. After the British aggressors landed at the southern part of the coast of the island, they marched northward, guided by a local inhabitant. When they went by the Fragrant Port Village, a British officer asked about the name of the village. The guide answered: "Hong Kong", in his local dialect. The officer noted down the name according to the guide"s pronunciation. It was applied to the whole island as its proper name later. In the 22nd year of the reign of Emperor Dao Guang of the Qing Dynasty, i.e. the year 1842, the Opium War between China and Britain ended in the defeat of the Qing Court. The Treaty of Nanjing was signed, by which the island of Hong Kong was ceded to Britain. In the 10th year of the reign of Emperor Xian Feng, i.e. the year 1860, the Kowloon Peninsula was also ceded to Britain. In the 24th year of the reign of Emperor Guang Xu, i.e. the year 1898, the New Territories were also ceded in lease to Britain, whereby the entire area of Hong Kong fell under British control, and the name of Hong Kong was further widened in application to become that of the entire area mentioned above. When the first census was taken by the British Army, the total population of Hong Kong was fifteen thousand people. Beginning from June, 1843 and ending in 1992, Britain appointed successively twenty-eight governors to rule and control Hong Kong. At 5 p.m. June 30, 1997, Christopher Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong left the Government house of Hong Kong, and the sovereignty over the island reverted to the People"s Republic of China. Among the twenty-eight governors of the past era, one served only for a term of one year and one served for as long as 10 years. Some governors" names have been made the names of roads so as to be kept in the memory of the Hong Kong people. Each of the twenty-eight governors received an annual salary as high as three hundred thousand U. S. dollars, all being paid by Hong Kong taxpayers.
Now let me introduce to you a few of the past governors of Hong Kong, picked out from among the twenty-eight ones, who were people of every description.
The governor of the shortest term of office
The first governor was Sir Henry Pottinger. He held the position only for ten months, and for this reason he was called the governor of the shortest term of office. He laid down the foundation for Hong Kong to become later the administrative, military, and commercial center of Britain in the Far East and established the Administrative and Legislative Departments at the same time. On the other hand, he transformed Hong Kong into the chief transfer station of the British opium traffic and enabled opium to flow into China"s mainland in tremendous quantities, with the result that British opium dealers earned an enormous amount of silver, which might be said to be stained with the blood of the Chinese people, and the life and health of the Chinese population were seriously jeopardized.
The governor most resourceful for advertizing
The ninth governor Sir George Ferguson Bowen was skilled in advertising. He gave Hong Kong the well-known nickname of the Strait of Gibraltar in the East, by which he meant that Hong Kong would become an important commercial port of Great Britain next only to London. Owing to the fact that Hong Kong maintained neutrality in the following Sino-French War it gradually became an entrepot in international trade.
The most ridiculous governor
When the twelfth governor sir Henry Arthur Blake was in office, pestilence frequently occurred in Hong Kong. People in medical circles thought that the chief culprit was the hateful rat. Therefore, Blake waged a campaign to destroy rats and promised to give a "liberal" reward of two silver dollars for each rat captured and killed. As a result, the government Ą°boughtĄ± a total number of forty-three thousand rats in one year. It was discovered later, however, that the majority of these rats, as a matter of fact, had been smuggled into Hong Kong from other places. They were not "original inhabitants" of Hong Kong but "illegal immigrants".
The most unlucky governor
The twenty-first governor Sir Mark Atchison Young may be said to have been the most unfortunate governor of Hong Kong in history. No sooner had he taken over the post than Hong Kong fell into Japanese hands and he became a captive. He passed many dark days in a concentration camp. After Hong Kong was recovered from the enemy, people sought for him everywhere in the city but in vain. It was supposed that he had been killed by the Japanese Army. Later, Britain received a notice from the Soviet Union, which said that after the Soviet Army invaded into the northeast part of China the soldiers discovered by accident an Englishman in a concentration camp. Upon investigation, they learned that he was no other than the governor of Hong Kong M.A. Young. Thus his captive life came to an end.
The most prestigious and ostentatious governor
The twenty-fifth governor Crawford Murray MacLehose was the governor of Hong Kong who was in office for the longest period and enjoyed the most prestige and ostentation. The ten years of his administration has been praised by his supporters as the "ten golden years" of Hong Kong. On the basis of economic prosperity, he did his utmost to transform Hong Kong into an international financial center. Apart from this, he set up the Independent Commission against Corruption to hit the corrupt morals that prevailed in public affairs and wreaked havoc with the people"s life and business. He also established the Housing Commission and formulated a ten-year housing plan, which brought benefit to many citizens. As for his ostentation, his career as the governor of Hong Kong for ten years not only made him a well-known political figure but also brought him a lot of money, which made him a wealthy man in people"s eyes. According to someone"s calculation, his ten-years" salary totaled three million and four hundred thousand HK dollars; in addition to this, he had recreation subsidies, and he was the only person in Hong Kong who did not need to pay income tax. His residence, servants and chauffeurs were paid for by the government. Furthermore, he was entitled to a sizable pension after retirement. It may be said with assurance that though he could not be counted among the richest people in Britain, he would be able to spend his old age in great comfort.
The Hong Kong Government house, or the governor"s official residence, is a famous historic building of Hong Kong. It is situated in the central area of the island, Upper Albert Road. In 1845, the Hong Kong British government decided to build the governorĄŻs official residence, and the construction work was accomplished in 1855. In 1890, the government again appropriated forty thousand dollars for the extension of the building and added a wing to it, which was to be used as the banquet hall. Of the twenty-eight past governors of Hong Kong, twenty-five have used this building as their official residence and office for doing work. During the period of Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in the Second World War, the building was reconstructed by the Japanese with one tower added to it between the main building and the wing, so that the building became of today"s appearance and magnitude. This building for the Hong Kong Government is quite magnificent. On the ground floor there is an auditorium which can accommodate a large number of people with a parking hall on either side. In the basement there is a big dining hall in which banquets can be arranged. Upstairs, there are rooms and parlors for the private use of the governor and his wife and also a lounge in which meetings of a small size can be held. Additionally, there are three big suites, luxuriously furnished and elegantly laid out for entertaining VIPs. Many members of the British royal family, British government officials and distinguished foreign guests who visited Hong Kong or passed by stayed in these suites when they were being entertained by the governor. In the outdoor garden a swimming pool has been added.
The Hong Kong Government house has been renamed the Hong Kong Protocol Mansion and has been designated as a historic site according to the "Rules for Objects and Places of Historic Interest". It is now the place at which the government and high-ranking officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conduct important ceremonies or engage in important activities, such as for giving official banquets to entertain heads of state or government visiting Hong Kong and for awarding titles of honor to distinguished personages. The Hong Kong Protocol Mansion is open to the public for visits four days in a year.