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Hong Kong, the Fall of China and ‘Fax’ Americana, 1949-1952

In addition to battling its domestic communist threat, the Hong Kong government, beginning in mid-1949, was fast becoming a major player in the British (and in some cases Anglo-American) war against communism manifesting in East Asian propaganda, immigration, and education. This was partly because the Chinese communists (and the US) were orchestrating some of their major regional operations from inside the colony. It was also because the British were keen to demonstrate their usefulness in the Anglo-American relationship, in order to maintain great power status and to influence the US’s ‘naivety and selfishness’ in the region.1

Hong Kong’s position in this clash of imperialisms was complicated by two new phases in the Cold War: the formation of communist China in October 1949 and the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950. Whitehall leveraged these events to force Grantham to accept a number of policies he had previously resisted, specifically: increased interference from London regarding Hong Kong’s defence; a constantly expanding purview for US espionage and information services; and stricter immigration policies. While begrudgingly giving into these demands, Grantham much more willingly accepted permission to expand his government’s power to control subversion and to expand corporal punishment. And while Grantham remained abstruse regarding the CCP, his government’s actions were explicitly aimed at countering communist activities.

The beginning of the Korean War marked the end of British leadership in the region, replaced by ‘Fax’ Americana. Moreover, the Korean War, © The Author(s) 2017

C. Sutton, Britain’s Cold War in Cyprus and Hong Kong, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-33491-2_11

combined with the 1952 Kowloon riots, gave Grantham the justification needed to end any hope for major constitutional reform for Hong Kong. Throughout this period, British policy-makers were steadfast in their Cold War against the CCP in Hong Kong and the region.

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