Kowloon: heir to the opium wars
If you know a little of what the story, you should also know what the opium wars in China and how they ended. We give a little historical background: the Opium wars – military conflicts in the territory of China in the nineteenth century between the Western powers and the Qing Empire. One of the main requirements of Western countries was the expansion of trade, primarily in opium. In short, were to blame for the drugs and the oppression of the Chinese.
One of the results of the first opium war was the lease to the government of the British Empire, Hong Kong, and then, in 1898, the new Convention was the lease of Kowloon and Hong Kong for the next 99 years.
China lost these territories for a long time, but was able to keep one fortress, which was called Kowloon. I imagine it is a town surrounded by sturdy walls. It originally lived officials of the Qing Empire. This fortress had been occupied by Chinese citizens, and not dominated by British law. But in fact, China has long forgotten about this fortress. It is known that the walls of Kowloon was demolished during the second world war by the troops of Japan for the construction of one of the most dangerous airports in the world Kai tak.
In the end, the Kowloon remained without the walls, which in the new era were not needed. Which wall will protect your weak body from the bomb? Right – no, your body will be torn into small bloody pieces. During the Second world war the area was occupied by the Japanese army. When the war ended, Kowloon previously did not obey the British colonial administration, although he was surrounded on all sides by buildings of Hong Kong.
In 1949 the government of China, fully passed into the hands of the Communists, the party «Kuomintang», previously had control over the entire territory of China that lost all their privileges and fled to the island of Taiwan, establishing there its own government. It now exists, and the country is called the Republic of China, which, however, is rarely recognized, despite their economic success. Many loyal to the «Kuomintang» Chinese also fled in Kowloon, hoping these items live, in fact, in Hong Kong, but not in the red mode. They enjoyed all the benefits of the advanced provinces, while being in subjection to her, never paying any taxes. Thus began a large-scale migration in this very small area. Hundreds changed thousands, thousands – tens of thousands. Independence from the new Chinese government, as well as exemption from taxes and any control attracted a large number of people, and also criminals who wanted to get lost among the slum and to live in peace, their their illegal craft. The district, naturally, became very quickly turn into a terrible cesspool, beyond the control of any authority and only recognizes its own laws.
1898 – 700 inhabitants
1940 – 2000 inhabitants
1950 – 5000 inhabitants
1973 – 10,000 inhabitants
1980 – 30,000 inhabitants
1990 – 50,000 inhabitants
As a result, by 1990, a small piece of land lived about fifty thousand people. The district had such dimensions: 213 meters to 126 meters, making it the most densely populated place on the planet. The buildings were basically a sad sight: some scary looking blocks and balconies, reminiscent of a birdcage. In the 80-ies, but rather in 1984, Britain decided to recognize the Kowloon part of Hong Kong that there were no important or significant event – the lease has come to an end.
Now imagine looked like the Bastion of poverty, homeless and poor sanitation? The houses were piled one on another and reached a height of 14-storey building, which sounds not so much, if you do not present the technology of construction of such buildings. They might be built above, but authorities have made a complete ban on such recklessness in the construction industry, citing the fact that it was located next to the airport. The district has long been a need neither China nor Britain, making it quite distracting from reality. If you read some dystopia where people live in poverty, darkness and cramped quarters, where there are normal doctors only self-taught, where they fit and public houses and offices of the Chinese triads. About it is a different story: the triad was a kind of government in the territory of Kowloon in Hong Kong for many years, they have organized the district meth lab, casino, and trafficking in prostitutes. The Chinese government with the mafia was a short conversation, and eventually they were gone from the area, although the drugs and prostitutes are still there. However, what could be expected from such a large ghetto?
Amazing how people could live in such conditions, however, according to the 1980-ies in Kowloon there was a kind of infrastructure. The area is 148 stores, as well as 150 doctors, 87 of whom were dentists. Of course, many of them had no license, and walk in them meant to take high risks. However, the lack of control and taxes in this issue played well into their hands. The prices were much lower than in all of China, in the end they paid not only the residents of this ghetto, but also quite wealthy Hong Kongers who just wanted to save.
Generally, all the development of the fortress rests on the shoulders of its inhabitants. None of the governments were not going to develop the area. It is therefore not surprising that it was made in the handicraft way. Some of the wells dug by residents, reached 90 meters deep, there were a total of 77 wells, water was supplied by pumps on the roof, and thence passed through pipes in the apartment. City services have not visited the area, the streets were not marked, one might even say that addresses as such did not exist – postmen often do not know where to take the parcel. The waste disposal was also a problem for the residents of the houses, and some of them were put the trash directly into the roofs of houses. The shops were generally on the lower level and the services of doctors, hairdressers and the like.
Surprisingly, if you compare Kowloon with the same Brazilian Favelas, the degree of violence and crime in Brazilian analogue is much higher. In Kowloon didn’t happen with such regularity murder, rape and other serious crimes that man is capable of.
Only in this ghetto there were 350 buildings, perched on one another without a hint of any architectural standards and security rules. They were interconnected by a network of passageways, alleys, often peregorazhivanie. A man who grew up in this place, it was hard to focus in the district. There was no logic mapping was pointless, since the area was very active, everything changed, built on, destroyed. Many narrow passages, which proudly called streets, reached a width of a meter and a half. And some of these streets actually were on a higher level. All this, of course, resembled a wild thrash in the worst sense. Everywhere lay the debris has been a proliferation of rats in the stores on the first level sold burgers with cutlets of dog meat. By the way, one of the main items of income of the local food trade was dog meat.
But with all this poverty, all this horror that people can live with dignity. Not all were drug addicts, members of gangs or prostitutes. You could even say that the majority of the population of Kowloon is simple laborers with their families, which has driven this area of need. They worked without a license, without documents, without a formal wage for some clandestine textile factories. And knew how to have fun, somehow to live together. The district did not represent a special problem for police, especially after the triad has lost its position in it. People rejoiced very minor things. The average area for a large Chinese family was about 20-25 meters. Life in such circumstances was like living in a huge communal apartment, where, to do without scandals and quarrels, had well known each other and promptly provide each other help.
Almost the entire electrical system, which was in Kowloon, was illegally. Electricity just stole from neighboring areas and on the roofs one could see the turbulent life of the poorest of China – the roofs were something like parks and REC, where gathered the whole family, children and friends.
In General, absolutely amazing life, which is difficult to perceive it as something real. The district as a result was demolished in 1994. Instead, he made a beautiful Park, which is, perhaps, the absolute opposite of what it was there for so long. From Kowloon nothing left, and residents were moved to the ordinary budget of the apartment.
Such a place could not fail to affect the minds of filmmakers and writers. Too was monstrous and strange. For example, in the novel famous science-fiction writer William Gibson referred to online hackers, who, according to the words of the author, is a prototype of Kowloon; the action Thriller «blood Sport» in 1988, which starred Jean-Claude van Damme, takes place directly in the settlement-fortress.
Kowloon at the end of their life was like terrible, has grown a monster mutant whose tentacles tried to reach up as high as possible, even sloppy, with pain, but still he was good. The fortress city, which has its own mysteries that we do not know, and which became a shelter for many tens of thousands of people deprived of a normal life. For almost a century the castle has evolved according to its own laws, it was not the pressure state of the body, perhaps it could be called anarchy in the flesh. In the end, the Kowloon died, as befits a fortress, demolished, cleaned the hostile and alien force.