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China is known to be one of the biggest countries in the world, with the largest population. Hong Kong has become a popular place where many people want to settle with their families, but became too popular where the Chinese created the “One Way Permit System”, which will create a slower rate of population grow. Mainlanders were noted of only using about 100 out of 150 daily permits that were available for them to go to Hong Kong. Many more job opportunities are offered in the mainland, which also drives a slow down in population rate of people headed to move to Hong Kong. Even if the job availability in the mainland is well, the living may also be the same as “a leading social policy academic and a social worker said better living standards on the mainland had led to fewer applications for one-way permits” [1].Hong Kong surprisingly enough has one of the worlds lowest birth rates, with 8.6, per 1,000. As many mainlanders settle down and do not head to Hong Kong, there is still an ongoing number that do, and people have argued that the permits that should be allowed to go through are the ones who are single mothers trying to support their family and children that are living in Hong Kong.

Thesis:  China is known to have one of the largest populations in the world. The large population brought negative effects to the country, in which the government had to create new policies to help control the population so that by 2030, it will begin to decrease and areas will no longer be over-populated. Yet the large population has brought negative effects by over-populated areas, it has also brought positive effects to the Chinese economy. It brings many advantages in factories by providing many labor opportunities for people in China. Which leads to increase in international trade, with it being one of the largest exporters. Chinas economy continues to stay strong with the large population, providing many jobs and opportunities for people to help improve the economy and government.

As Hong Kong’s population continues to increase in present day, there were also major issues relating back to population in 1957. Many of the Chinese had resulted in building new houses on top of the roof of others, in which the Chinese government had forbidden construction on top of rooftops to continue. Issues had arose when there were about 2.5 million people living within 391 square miles, or rather 64 square miles of unusable land. As compared to Israel with 1.8 million people within 8,000 square miles. With the outgrown population, many refugees had resulted to sleeping on the streets. Hong Kong is known to be a beautiful city to look down onto, until you take a walk down the street and how ” it’s an appalling city when you come down and look, close up, at how the thousands live” [1]. In Hong Kong the rooftop dwellers were known as the middle class.

With the outrage in population and the poor living conditions people were beginning to face, there was an explosion of economics. Exports to the United States had jumped from 15.4 million, to 20.4 million within a year. Imports had also become heavier, as in 1957 there were 56.9 million and the next year there were 74.2 million [1]. The skyrocketing trade had provided numerous jobs for the refugees. As to this day, Hong Kong still remains as a major exported to the world and increase of population can sufficiently benefits economy.

This newspaper article was written in 1957 to show the world how Hong Kong’s economy is at an all time high even though their population is increasing rapidly, and that refugees are sleeping on the streets. The audience of this article are potentially other countries near, or around the world who have been alarmed to the aggressiveness of Hong Kong’s exporters. An unknown assumption is that the living conditions may be hard due to the outrage of population, but yet families are still able to exceed life and come in contact with their families. Also that the refugees are living a normal everyday life. The author can compare how being in New York is as crazy as Hong Kong and that their population is very high as well. Showing his audience that even if your city is exceeding in exports, it still has to somehow has to find a better way to control population and refugees coming in.


 China had emerged a new economic system between the two world wars. The growth of China created new goods from the boost of large scale industries and newly created financial institutions, both gave increasing economic growth. The Chinese government always have a strong economy, and especially in Hong Kong. Many Chinese business men were known to dominate the economy after World War Two (116). The growth of China came from the economic crises in the Mainland. It had soon become more socially and economically integrated in the Mainland. The senior officials began to change the Chinese government by raising taxes and expanding welfare. The relationship between the Mainland and China became so strong between the wars, that the China on trade had dominated Hong Kong’s economic outlook(38). By the 1930’s, Hong Kong was a “robust, free-standing and international banking system”(47). The system met all finical requirements of commerce and industry in Hong Kong, but also carried to the Mainland as well. A silver crises had occurred that affected the Mainland and Hong Kong by creating them to abandoned their traditional basis for their currencies(49). The price of silver had declined in 1931, which left the economy to a severe downturn until 1935 when silver was abolished(39). [6]

The Opium Trade brought strong importance to the world on how it impacted Chinas current economic system.  There was a strong connection between China and Burma, that was very important to Burma opium industry. Under the British rule, Nisbet stated ” that all licenses to sell opium were held by Chinese men” (100). During 1903-1904, a report came back in lower Burma, stating that out of the 91 license holders , 44 were Chinese.  The Chinese mass population in Burma had brought strong benefits to the opium trade. They were known to be the most useful tool, for they alone have a lot of experiences and knowledge with smugglers. Even though Chinese population continues to increase, it slowing started to decrease as the Europeans were catching up to them as licensed holders. Three years later, a report came back to lower Burma and this time 35 were Chinese, 30 were Europeans, 12 were Burmese and 4 were of other ethnicities. The Chinese brought strong importance to the opium trade and increase sales with a “transitional dimensions of Bruma opium industry” (107) . In 1906, China announced after the first world war, India ended their connection with China and the Opium trade(104). The first international opium trade conference was held in Sangahi in February of 1909(105). The conference had not gone as planned and many countries had no left happy with the new regulations of the opium trade. [3]

In 2005, China was reported 1.29 billion people, 7 million people living in Hong Kong and Macao, with another 23 million living in Taiwan(115).  People have estimated that China’s population will hit it’s maximum in 2030, and then slowly decline afterwards. With China’s large population, it gives people many opportunities for employment, which is why China is known to be the “factory of the world”. China has formed economic policies to deal with the factor of increase population. The three factors responsible for China’s demographic dimensions are “cultural homogeneity, the key socioeconomic role of the family”(115) and the one-child policy. During 1956 many new policies were form to control the Chinese population, that controlled the economic and social construct of Chinese people. Many Chinese in rural areas relied on renting of farms in village governments, jobs in factories, welfare, and permits for employment(120). With the high numbers in population, it lowers the costs of transportation and transactions, and impacts “well-functioning markets for labor and capital”(121). The one-child policy was initially create to decrease China’s population, to where by 2030 most people will be of older age and the population will decrease. This can also bring many negative impacts to the urban area. It limits birth in urban areas where child development for social and health conditions are the best and skilled labor is needed(121). This creates an unbalanced structure for China’s population. [5]

[1] BY HENRY GEMMILL Staff Reporter of THE WALL,STREET JOURNAL. (1957, May 17). Harried hong kong. Wall Street Journal (1923 – Current File) Retrieved from

[2] The Wall Street Journal, 17 May 1957

[3] Wright, Ashely. Opium and Empire in Southeast Asia: regulating consumption in British Burma 1980- (2014)

[4]Alain Le Pichon China trade and empire: Jardine, Matheson & Co. and the origins of British rule in Hong Kong, 1827-1843 (2006) 

[5] McNicolle, Geoffrey.  The Political economy of global population change, 1950-2050 (2006)

[6] Goodstadt, Leo F. Profits, politics and panics: Hong Kong’s banks and the making of a miracle economy, 1935-1985 (2007)

[7] Lemoine, F. and Unal, D. (2017), China’s Foreign Trade: A “New Normal”. China & World Economy, 25: 1–21. doi:10.1111/cwe.12191

[8] The World Bank, and The World Bank. China 2030. Herndon, US: World Bank Publications, 2012. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 22 March 2017.

[9] Scharping, Thomas Birth Control in China, 1949-2000: population policy and demographic development. 2005

[1] Sun, N., & Lee, E. (2015, Dec 05). Fewer mainland chinese settle in hong kong, leading to cut in population growth projection. South China Morning Post Retrieved from ( accessed January 18, 2017)

Search Items: Hong Kong, Population, Imperialism, Economy, China*, Government

Primary Source Data Base: The Wall Street Journal, New York

Primary Source Search Data Limiter: Before 1979

Historical Research Question: What role did Hong Kong play in the world trade and who was their biggest imports and exports? Why did so many refugees want to live in Hong Kong and were content with sleeping in the streets? Is Hong Kong’s economy as good as it was with exports in 1957 and it is now in present day?