HSBC Hong Kong SWIFT
S I glide across Victoria Harbor on the swift Mass Transit Railway, toward Hong Kong Island and the city’s gleaming skyline, no junks or sampans are visible. Walking the streets of the bustling Wan Chai or trendy Lan Kwei Fong neighborhoods, I see no rickshaws or women in traditional, snug-fitting cheung sarm dresses. After all, the metropolis of Hong Kong, one of the world’s most densely populated areas, bears no resemblance to the city in war photographs of a generation ago.
The Hong Kong Hotel, the Fortress Headquarters, and the North Point Power Station have nearly vanished without a trace. The city’s only easily visible wounds are shrapnel scars on the two bronze lion statues cast in 1935 that stood in front of a banking company headquarters, the HSBC Building, during the war, and continue to guard its replacement.
The Battle of Hong Kong remains one of the “lost” battles of World War II. After all, the conflict was declared lost virtually before it ever began. “There is not the slightest chance of holding Hong Kong or relieving it, ” Winston Churchill said in January 1941. Churchill proved prophetic: Hong Kong’s governor, Sir Mark Young, surrendered the colony to the Japanese in a ceremony at the Peninsula Hotel on Christmas Day 1941, after just 17 days of fighting. Because of the battle’s brevity and supposed strategic insignificance, it remains largely lost to historians too.
Without any historic markers to guide me, I could not help but wonder if I, too, had embarked on a lost cause. But then I realized that while Hong Kong may be almost devoid of landmarks and museums, it is quite literally surrounded by wartime history.
Canvas Artwork of Zoological and Botanical gardens, Central district, Hong Kong, China, Asia
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