The Fragrant Harbour: An Overview of Its Maritime Trade and Port Development
5/4/1997 – 4/5/1997
With its favourable geographical position, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong was a port of call for foreign trading ships arriving or departing Guangzhou, then the centre of foreign trade. A garrison of 2,000 soldiers were stationed to guard the vessels passing by. In the Ming dynasty, it was probably one of the stops of the "Ceramic Route". After its inception in 1841, Hong Kong was declared a free port. Traders from Britain and other countries started their business in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the disturbance in South China in the 1850s brought large number of wealthy merchants who came with capital, and with Hong Kong as the entrepot, established trade on Chinese commodities with Southeast Asia and North China. The entrepot trade began to prosper. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the completion of through telegraph-cable from Shanghai and Hong Kong to Europe gave impetus to the growth of entrepot trade. After World War II, local industry developed rapidly. New markets were opened and large amount of Hong Kong manufactured goods were exported to other countries, which stimulated the development of maritime trade. To cope with this, port facilities were modernized. The coastline and the harbor had changed drastically under massive reclamations over the years.
With doubt, the harbour is one of Hong Kong's greatest geographical assests to which it owes much of its prosperity. A retrospect of the development of the harbor and Hong Kong as an entrepot would throw light on the success story of this enchanting Pearl of the Orient.