The Hong Kong Circle is the second novel in the Chinese Circles series, which takes the surviving characters from The Shanghai Circle through the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in 1941, and the subsequent war years. The story then follows Hong Kong as it begins the long road to being one of the most incredible industrial and financial success stories of the modern age.
In 1941, the Japanese were waiting on Hong Kong’s border. Confident the Americans would sail from Pearl Harbour to defend the colony if necessary, the people of Hong Kong were ill-prepared for what would happen next. The Japanese invaded on the same day as Pearl Harbour was attacked, and despite a brave but futile battle by the British garrison, Hong Kong fell, civilians were interned and many captured soldiers were shipped to Japan as slave labour.
We follow the lives and deaths of expats and triads as old friends face unthinkable dangers. Davina and Thomas are captured and imprisoned, while Irina with her knowledge of Japanese is forced to work for the conquerors. Joseph and his Sung triad liaise with the Japanese in the invasion, and then continue to flourish under the new regime. A new character, Adrian Shaw, arrives to join the Hong Police, where he finds policing far different to London.
On its liberation in 1945, Hong Kong slowly began to rise from the ashes, and the Guest trading company recovers. But the festering enmity between Joseph and Guest’s, dating back from Shanghai days, never fades.
While the colony rebuilds, it is constantly looked over its shoulder. There waits its mammoth neighbour and the threat of Mao Zedong’s communist revolution.
Hong Kong will always have a special place in my heart and I could not describe it better than Richard Hughes in his book, ‘Borrowed Place Borrowed Time’ which he starts by saying,
‘A borrowed place living on borrowed time, Hong Kong is an impudent capitalist survival on China’s communist derriere, an anachronistic mixture of British colonialism and the Chinese way of life, a jumble of millionaires’ mansions and horrible slums, a teeming mass of hardworking humans, a well-ordered autocracy.
It was founded on contraband and conquest, it is insufficient in food and water, it lacks coal, oil and all natural resources save granite, sand, fish and homo sapiens. It is a rambunctious, free-booting colony, naked and unashamed, devoid of self pity, regrets or fear of the future.’
A fascinating place and where better to start a new chapter in the Chinese Circles?
For those interested in learning more about the period then Fact and Fiction will answer some questions while Photos provides some graphic images of the times, the place and those who lived there. Acknowledgements mentions some of the people and research books which have helped me create this novel.