The Hong Kong/Pearl River Delta Transborder Region: Three Transformative Moments 1950, 1979, 1997
Alan Smart, Professor of Anthropology, University of Calgary
This presentation will explore the changing relationship between the former British colony of Hong Kong and the neighboring region of the People’s Republic of China. Integration between Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta changed sharply three times in the last half century, and these turning points ultimately had significant repercussions for the entire world. In 1950, the border was closed for the first time during peace, and Hong Kong experienced transition from colonial port to a key flexible manufacturing platform, while simultaneously helping China survive economic sanctions through smuggling. When China re-opened itself to the capitalist global economy in 1979, Hong Kong was a crucial catalyst making export-oriented development and the “rise of China” possible. Since 1997, the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty has resulted in a complex set of reconfigurations in the region which are still unfolding.