The Battle of Hong Kong

Cause and consequence:

Who: Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, India

What: Canada’s first battle in World War II, lasting 18 days. 2000 troops were sent to Hong Kong thinking it would be simple guard duty, later attacked by 52000 Japanese soldiers. Canadian allies fought to defend Hong Kong and failed heroically, the remaining taken as prisoners of war. The attack was against international law, as Japan had not declared war against Britain.

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Where: Hong Kong

When: December 8th – 25th, 1941.

Why: Early 1920s, the Anglo Japanese Treaty ended (an alliance between Japan and Britain), frightening the British. Late 1930s, Japan was in military conflict with Republic of China, later occupying Canton (Guangzhou) and surrounding Hong Kong. British studies believe that it would be very hard to defend Hong Kong, placing little thought in helping. In the mid-1930s, they began improving the defenses for Hong Kong, and then reducing the garrison to a symbolic size (2000 men) in the 1940s.

The most important causes were the end of the Anglo Japanese Alliance and the surrounding of Hong Kong. The Anglo Japanese Alliance bound Britain and Japan to assist one another in safeguarding their interests in China and Korea. However, along with the treaty’s ending, Britain had become cautious of Japan’s actions, realizing that Japan was in the process of overrunning one of their allies. I believe that there were three major aspects within the Battle of Hong Kong: The catalyst, or the ending of the treaty, the surrounding of Hong Kong, the rejection of two surrender proposals, the actual execution of said battle.

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The Battle of Hong Kong was viewed by Canadians at the time as a bold defense of our allies, fighting back even when outnumbered. To this day, veterans still speak about the courage of the soldiers defending Hong Kong, doing all they could to prove their loyalty, as well as work together in a time of vast differences. Simultaneously, the Japanese were viewed as a disreputable world power to those on the opposing side, not only fighting with an unbeatable amount of people, but violating an international law in the process.

Although the Battle of Hong Kong was not a success, it shaped Canada’s value for commitment, having defended Hong Kong despite the overwhelming military pressure. Additionally, different cultures worked together to defend an ally, helping grow Canada’s value for inclusion and acceptance, understanding that we are all defending each other. Therefore, Canada not only showed their political commitment towards their allies, but simultaneously shaped what Canada values socially today about different cultures.

As for Canada’s autonomy, the Battle of Hong Kong played a large political and social role in how we are portrayed by others and ourselves. The Battle of Hong Kong was one of the first battles in the Pacific war, along with one of the first battles Canada participated in during World War II. The Battle of Hong Kong allowed for Canada to prove their loyalty towards their allies. Despite the failure, the fight defending Hong Kong was a bold and important event for Canadians in the present, ultimately pushing Canada’s reputation forward.

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