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"jacob goldstein hong kong" Discussed on KQED Radio
"Hello and welcome to planet money I'm Jacob Goldstein Hong Kong is this sort of impossible place if if capitalist city with a free press and freedom of assembly and an independent judicial system also Hong Kong is part of China a country with none of those things and Jimmy life is an embodiment of all. is one of the richest people in Hong Kong and also one of the loudest critics of the Chinese government today on the show the story of Jimmy why is the story of Hong Kong and the story of Hong Kong is the story of the two hundred year relationship between China and the west I mean more less support for NPR comes from this station and from ultimate software dedicated to putting people first with solutions for HR payroll and talent management learn more and ultimate software dot com. and from the William to grant foundation at W. T. grant foundation dot org to really understand the story of Jimmy live and of Hong Kong and China and the west you have to go back to the eighteen thirties at the time China was almost entirely closed to foreigners if you are a traitor from Europe or from the U. S. there was only one place in China you are allowed to go a town in southern China that westerners called canton actually foreigners were even really allowed in canton I talked about this with Steven Platt a historian at the university of Massachusetts the foreigners had to make do with a little tiny compound of about twelve acres outside of the city down and serve a muddy spot by the river so why would these traitors sail halfway around the world to stay in a muddy twelve acre compound down by the river to get rich on it was an incredibly lucrative trade basically the I mean the the world's source of tea at that point in time was entirely from China and in canton was the only place you could buy it twelve acres was it was the center of an engine for the world economy essentially but these traders who are getting rich in their little twelve acre compound started to bump up against a problem the world and especially Britain wanted all this T. but try not didn't want that much stuff from the world for awhile traders were just paying for the tea with silver so much so that all the silver just started flowing into China eventually the traders did find a product that the Chinese really want opium the British traders became big time international drug king pins which then as now was a very profitable business they started ramping up opium production in India shipping it over illegal to China where it was being sold off of the coast to wholesalers and by the eighteen thirties opium had become the largest foreign import into China and it had in fact one done via trade imbalance to the point that the British were not. only getting all the tea that they wanted but now they were starting to drain all the silver out of China opium was illegal in China but until this time the government had sort of look the other way then as more and more people became opium addicts and as silver started leaving the country never was like okay enough of this and he sent one of his top advisers a guy named Linda shoot down to canton to try and crack down on opium the British traders opium is on ships that are off shore it's not there in the compound so this issue he got to canton and what he did was he walked up the British merchants in that twelve acre compound and he said I'm not gonna let you out and I'm not gonna let you trade anything else until you give me all your opium there is a British admiral who is in charge of trade at canton his name is Charles Elliott and he wants to settle this so he says to the traders okay the British government will buy all of your opium from you if you just turn it off so they signed the entire season supply over to him and he signs notes promising them two million pounds and payment and then add real it gave this mountain of opium to Linz issue who dumped it all in the river who destroyed. we're gets back to London about what happened but the British government does not send two million pounds to make good on admiral Ellis promises instead the British send warships to force China to pay for the confiscated opium the fact that this was a war fought over illegal drug dealers was not at all lost on the British public and there was a huge outcry in Britain against this the opponents started calling it the opium war but by the time it ended it was about way more than opium by the time the war ends in eighteen forty two it's turned into something much much bigger than what Eliot had believed Britain had any kind of a right to in it had turned into a war to force China open to British trade in the treaty that ended the war the British demanded not only their two million pounds back they also made China let foreign traders into a bunch of foreign ports canton and also Shanghai and also a few others and the British decided we don't want to run the risk of some Chinese emperor locking up our traders again we need our own base of operations we need a little British colony so they made China give them this little rocky island right off the coast of southern China Hong Kong this is the beginning of what China calls its century of humiliation up until this time countries in the western part of China as this rich powerful empire now they see it can be pushed around the Germans and the French get their own colonial concessions from China in eighteen ninety eight Britain makes China give them a chunk of the land on the mainland of China across from Hong Kong it's about three hundred square miles they call this piece the new territories and this particular land grab the British say is not forever it's for ninety nine years they say they will give the new territories back in nineteen ninety seven when the British took over Hong Kong was this world place few thousand fishermen and farmers but then in the eighteen fifties the civil war broke out on the mainland and Hong Kong became a play. people started fleeing to from China this really is the Hong Kong where Jimmy Lai climbs out of the bottom of that boat in nineteen sixty this trading center that is attached to mainland China that was created in the sort of original sin of the opium war that exist under the laws and norms of the British Empire and that has been populated mostly by people like Jimi people have fled China and the descendants of those people so you you work in a factory to at making closes at which of her so yeah the fracture was making meet the graph gloves make around younger grounds okay breath and you're like running a sewing machine or what you're doing I was I was at first I was sweeping the floor all the cleaning is he worked his way up and by twenty one he's running a factory Hong Kong by this point has become an international financial centre to place where lots of western money flows on its way to Asia and Jimmy start speculating in the Hong Kong stock market and he does well he makes enough money to go in with a partner and buy a factory like a lot of factories in Hong Kong at the time his factory made clothes for foreign retailers and he sees these foreign companies buying from him and selling at a huge markup and he thinks I should be the one selling at that huge market so we decided to start a retail clothing company he doesn't want to call it until he goes on a business trip to New York he's meeting with the clothing importer here in New York and on the way out of the office one of his friends at the company gives in this like this little treat for the road one of the importing company somebody somebody gave me a is Sir yeah as I talk. this could you know like a monkey like at that level cookie yeah rocket cookie actually my point was a topic but this **** it with some marijuana there. so I took it I was so heart was so hungry so I ate it I've never was that hungry so I just went into. a piece of pres you know it might have to sure okay a piece of pace Sir you know connect team that I eat I clean my mouth I just put it into my pocket after that you know because what when when I was hired you know what I was doing here so the next morning when I woke up I was at that time I was thinking about the name for for the retaining strap that I'm going to I'm going to stop and also Giordano Giordano the name of the pizza place a what that's great you know people would think that I'm math I'm retired and ran Nate Diaz so I just use it is a true story yes that's it seems too good to be true I want it to be true yeah right well I he's not too good to be because when white white was not very well educated you know for me to think about our our a brand name is not easy sure especially I think it's a stupid idea to to to use a tad in name them thinking that people would assume you too as he tried to. I I I I you know I wouldn't I wouldn't do that now yeah but that's fine you know okay what what the hell I know. Jimmy launches Giordano in nineteen eighty one eventually there will be Giordano clothing stores in more than thirty countries around the world Giordano will make Jimmy rich. as Jim is building Giordano in the eighties there is like this cloud hanging over his future in nineteen ninety seven Britain is supposed to give the new territories in Hong Kong back to China and in China almost everything still belong to the government in most of China you just could not be a rich entrepreneur like Jim at the same time though the British Empire was basically over Britain was like getting out of the business of being a colonialist but they were governed as a straight up colony run by a British governor appointed by the queen of England controlled by British law and the extraordinary thing is how well it seemed to work Hong Kong has become like this the central node between Asia and the west so that by the late twentieth century people in Hong Kong were not only profoundly better off than people in mainland China people in Hong Kong were richer on average than people in Great Britain. so in the early eighties the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping start needing to figure out what to do about Hong Kong that's your toll done of course will give you back the new territories like we promised but we never said anything about the Hong Kong island so she asked him what if we just hold on to that. is that your years later describing dunks response and he said look I can walk in and take the whole softram. yes. your code. there's nothing I could do to stop you. but the eyes of the world. not only know what China was like. it was it would leave Hong Kong. in prosperity. and you would have some. lost a lot. just to be clear this is Great Britain lecturing China about how it would look bad to take Hong Kong by force known shopping was in some ways a practical leader and he knew that workers in capitalist Hong Kong were much more productive and had a much higher standard of living than workers on the communist mainly he didn't want to mess that up so in nineteen eighty four done and Thatcher made a deal Great Britain would agree to give all of Hong Kong back to China in nineteen ninety seven and China would agree to basically let Hong Kong keep being its own special thing governed by its own special laws for fifty years until two thousand forty seven. and then at midnight on July first nineteen ninety seven it happened..