Relatively little research has been done on the economic history of Hong Kong and the work we have is of fairly recent vintage. One reason for this lacuna is that Hong Kong’s functions as a trade and financial intermediary make it difficult to analyze it as a national economy. While the subtle interplay between the colony and elsewhere is widely recognized, few scholars have studied its economic significance in detail. Hong Kong was dubbed a “free-trade port” and an “international financial center,” as if these labels told the whole story. 1