The history of Hong Kong can date back to 7,000 years ago. Started out as a traditional fishing and farming society before the British occupation, Hong Kong’s development was taken to the next level when it became a free port. For thousands of years, Hong Kong, not exactly a barren land, was rarely known in Chinese history because of its remote location. However, the waves of Western attempts to open the world market brought drastic changes to this place and its importance thus surged. Hong Kong played a significant role in a number of Chinese historic events since the First Opium War.
The self-contained Eastern empire adopting a closed-door policy was defeated by the aggressive foreign invasions. Britain waged two Opium Wars against Qing China in the mid-19th century, during which the latter was carved up by the Western powers and forced to sign three unequal treaties to cede Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and lease the New Territories to Britain. Since then, the whole Hong Kong was under the British control.
The First Opium War and the cession of Hong Kong Island are the turning points in modern Chinese history. They also mark the beginning of the modern history of Hong Kong. Since then, China gradually opened to the world. Hong Kong took the centre stage of Chinese history overnight and became a pivotal modern trade port of China. The British-ruled Hong Kong played a special role in spurring the modern development of China with the participation of Chinese people with noble aspirations, ushering the traditional Chinese society onto the road of reform.