The Gate to China: A New History of the People’s Republic & Hong Kong
‘Impressive … Fascinating’ Sunday Times
‘An authoritative history’ Financial Times
‘Gripping and richly researched’ Rana Mitter
A superb new history of the rise of China and the fall of Hong Kong to authoritarian rule.
The rise of China and the fall of Hong Kong to authoritarian rule are told with unique insight in this new history by Michael Sheridan, drawing on eyewitness reporting over three decades, interviews with key figures and documents from archives in China and the West.
The story sweeps the reader from the earliest days of trade through the Opium Wars of the 19th century to the age of globalisation and the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. It ends with the battle for democracy on the city’s streets and the ultimate victory of the Chinese Communist Party.
How did it come to this? We learn from private papers that Margaret Thatcher anguished over the fate of Hong Kong, sought secret American briefings on how to handle China and put her trust in an adviser who was torn between duty and pride. The deal they made with Beijing did not last.
The Chinese side of this history, so often unheard, emerges from memoirs and documents, many new to the foreign reader, revealing how the party’s iron will and negotiating tactics crushed its opponents. Yet the voices of Hong Kong people – eloquent, smart and bold – speak out here for ideals that refuse to die.
Sheridan’s book tells how Hong Kong opened the way for the People’s Republic as it reformed its economy and changed the world, emerging to challenge the West with a new order that raises fundamental questions about progress, identity and freedom. It is critical reading for all who study, trade or deal with China.
‘You can understand a lot about China’s relations with the rest of the world … by looking at how the leadership in Beijing has dealt with Hong Kong …The Gate to China meticulously details why this is so … in this very readable book Sheridantakes the reader through the tortuous Sino-British negotiations that led to the handover … impressive … fascinating’Sunday Times -
‘Highly readable … Sheridan covers the Sino-British negotiations over Hong Kong’s future in engaging detail…he adds colour to existing accounts … provides a welcome contrast to many of the existing histories of the period’Literary Review -
‘An authoritative history of Hong Kong and its relations with the UK and China … even-handed … Analyses with a wealth of documentary evidence the motivations of Chinese leaders in seeking to reverse historical humiliation’Financial Times -
‘Sheridan’s gripping and richly researched history sheds a highly critical light on those British officials of the Thatcher era who seemed to favour Beijing’s autocracy over the promotion of liberal values and movingly recounts the brief hopes of Hong Kong’s reformers whose democratic enlightenment has turned to darkness’Rana Mitter, BBC History Magazine -
‘Authoritative … Hong Kong’s story is full of drama, politics and personalities and Sheridan tells it well, drawing from a wide variety of Chinese and British sources’Observer -
‘Sheridan’s account testifies to the Western dreams about China and to the ways they are shattered … The Gate to China details the regime’s use of its cyber-capabilities to monitor dissent, block communications and even interfere with efforts to measure public sentiment in Hong Kong’Washington Post -
‘A delightful piece of writing and research’Jasper Becker -
‘Deeply researched and beautifully written … Essential reading for anyone interested in the saga of a city whose fate has dominated the headlines’Mike Chinoy -