After a trip to Europe, visiting ruins of ancient Rome and Greek antiques, I found myself at the ancestral family estate in Buckingham Shire, England. My distant cousin the Lord of the Manor remarked to me that he found it fascinating that I lived on the very edge of western civilization. Any further steps and I would be speaking Chinese: we both laughed. But should we have?
In the visits of my relative to America or Canada it was usually then on west to Hong Kong. Here as we all knew those who wanted a silk suit or expensive attire or diamonds, earrings, necklaces of exquisite design could be had at such a bargain as could never be purchased anywhere else in the world.
We all of a certain age had known this, from our richer friends who were off and over, showing off their wardrobe, a new suit or pair of shoes at a time. And we all would marvel. How could the starving merchants of ragged Hong Kong in the midst of abject poverty of China and all Asia all around create all these bargains?
We all shrugged and thought none too much of it: virtual free labor from nearby China, British hands off vr company hong kong capitalism being allowed free rein to their talents. And how they thrived.
A small fishing port in a vast deep harbor in 1843 had become British Territory on a ninety nine year lease, a west Pacific base was made ready for the ever moving British Navy, with occasional need to limp to a home port for repairs whether by gunship or typhoon.
And so Hong Kong built up wooden structures of blended Chinese and British designs, under British rule and laws but with full rights for all. And Chinese kept coming into this part of China that was not China and you could get rich.
The brutal occupation by Japan during World War Two caused misery and hardship for all. The end of the war brought back the British and even after the revolution and take over of mainland China by Communism, Hong Kong was wisely left alone.
And this would become one of the most amazing transformations of a mighty nation and it following European theoretic of Communism until it became this was the route to common ruin. China helped hold off the west in Korea but in the decades following great order was in process of change.
As of 1950 and the police action in Korea, America helped Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong build shipyards nearby, and each nation has learned how to be an exporter to America in force. And generally they have all incorporated from Greek antiques the democratic tradition of a voice without fear and a vote for all.
So, in harmony, Japan and Korea rebuild in the western model of Greek Democracy, and Hong Kong stayed a colony ruled by London but allowing free British Capitalism. America had forced Japan to embrace both democracy and western capitalism.
Korea and Taiwan embraced both, as have now most every nation in Asia. Democracy more muted, but modified British rules of Adam Smith, adapted through the eyes of America and now seen through the eyes of Asia.
If,as seems possible, this brings us all a little closer to peace and good will and more understanding between people everywhere, is. a good thing.
Buddha and Jesus, so different, shared so much. But mostly, people adorned their highest ruling groups with rare examples of their special status. To have elegance was one thing, but did your mind also sparkle like Aristotle?