by Simon Black
On January 26, 1841, two years into the First Opium War between China’s Qing Dynasty and the British Empire, Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer hoisted the British flag above Possession Point in Hong Kong.
At the time the island’s population numbered less than 10,000. Most were illiterate fishermen.
Hong Kong was also devoid of any meaningful natural resources except for well-placed geography.
So when the war ended in 1842 and British diplomats formally annexed Hong Kong into their empire, they turned it into a free port almost immediately.