Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Labor Action, 17 September 1945


What They Fought For

U.S. and British Imperialism at Work in Asia

Hong Kong


From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 38, 17 September 1945, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Among the various deals made among the Big Three is one that permits British imperialism to retain its possession of Hong Kong. The British rulers have held this territory for so long that many people have come to believe that there is something really British about this land and that it belongs by all rights to the Empire.

Hong Kong, like so many other imperialist possessions in Asia, was annexed to the British Empire? It was and remains essentially Chinese territory. The British obtained the island and territory adjacent to it as a result of their war with China, the Opium War of 1839–42. This war broke out when the Chinese Commissioner, Lin Tse Hsi, demanded that British merchants surrender their stocks of opium, a tremendous source of profit built up by destroying Chinese people who became its addicts.

The British, of course, refused and were thereafter quarantined by the Chinese government.

The British dictated the Treaty of Nanking which gave them Hong Kong, a number of free ports and extra-territorial rights (this meant that British nationals were not subject to Chinese law and had special rights). Among the ports opened up to British imperialism as well as other powers were Canton, Shanghai, Amog, Foochow and Ningpi.

Ever since the rise of the nationalist movement in China, the Chinese have fought for rescinding extra-territorial rights and for a return of Chinese territory held by foreign imperialism. Chiang Kai-Shek, while ready to continue as an agent of imperialism, hoped to achieve complete surrender of those foreign-held areas as a means of strengthening his own rule in China. His demand for a return of Hong Kong met with a sharp rebuke of Churchill at the Cairo conference in 1944.

Since then, the Big Three have settled the matter among themselves and told the Chinese that in exchange for her “independence,” the Allies must be given certain concessions.

The concessions are already known. The French retain their rights in China. The British retain Hong Kong and their special privileges. The Russians re-establish the old Czarist interests in this vast country. Suppose the Chinese did not agree to these concessions? They would be taken anyway and the nominal independence of China would not even be that.

Thus, American interests in China are defended and assented to by the British and Russians. British rights are supported by the United States and Russia. Russia’s concessions are agreed to by the United States and Great Britain. Who is the loser? Not Chiang. Not the Chinese ruling class. The loser is the Chinese people – the real victims of imperialism.



Top of page

Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 29 January 2018