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Pauline Rule

Abstract

Ho A Mei, one of the earliest young Chinese to receive a thorough English education in the colony of Hong Kong, spent ten difficult years from 1858 to 1868, striving to make a fortune in the gold rush Australian colony of Victoria. Here he learnt much about modern business practices and ventures and also protested against the racial hostility that the Chinese encountered. Eventually after his retreat back to Hong Kong and Guangdong Province, he was successful partly because of his experiences in the advanced capitalist economy of colonial Victoria. This led him to move beyond the mercantile enterprises and property buying, which were key activities of many Hong Kong Chinese businessmen, into the areas of modern financial and telegraph services and mining ventures. He also spoke out frequently in a provocative manner against the colonial government over injustices and discrimination that limited the rights and freedom of the Chinese in Hong Kong. During the 1880s and 1890s, he was a recognized Chinese community leader, one whose assertiveness on behalf of Chinese interests was not always appreciated by the Hong Kong authorities.