Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Michael Ng on Empires Collaborate: Geopolitics of Colonial Policing in Hong Kong (1880s–1970s) (CUP book chapter)

"Empires Collaborate: Geopolitics of Colonial Policing in Hong Kong (1880s–1970s)"
Michael Ng
in Weitseng Chen (ed) and Hualing Fu (ed), Regime Type and Beyond: The Transformation of Police in Asia(Cambridge University Press, May 2023), pp. 291-315

Summary: To date, most scholarly work on historical Hong Kong policing has focused on the relationship between the governing and governed within a local setting. This approach explains policing solely within the confines of the juxtaposition of the authoritarian power of the colonial government on the one hand with the individual rights and liberties of the colonized on the other. This chapter, which draws upon archival documents from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries showing how public media in Hong Kong were systematically censored, placed under police surveillance, and prosecuted for political reasons, argues that collaboration among the imperial empires to safeguard their interests in East Asia contributed significantly to Hong Kong policing during that period. Hence, this chapter argues that Hong Kong policing was historically not solely a matter of domestic authoritarian governance but also an issue of global geopolitical relevance. Analyzing colonial Hong Kong policing based on the conventional framework of human rights or colonial inequality and racism without considering the bigger picture of global and regional politics is, this chapter argues, seriously inadequate. The bigger picture is the political-economic situation of China, China’s relations with the major world powers, and those powers’ China strategies over time, as this chapter’s archival discovery will discuss.

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