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postgraduate thesis: Proxy humanitarianism : Hong Kong's Vietnamese refugee crisis, 1975-79

TitleProxy humanitarianism : Hong Kong's Vietnamese refugee crisis, 1975-79
Authors
Issue Date2014
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Yuen, H. [袁康翹]. (2014). Proxy humanitarianism : Hong Kong's Vietnamese refugee crisis, 1975-79. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5446493
AbstractSet against the backdrop of the Cold War and the declining British Empire, this thesis explores how the Hong Kong government handled the Vietnamese refugee crisis of the 1970s. The Vietnamese refugee influx started after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and temporarily stopped after the Geneva Conference on Indochinese refugees in 1979. Drawing extensively upon recently declassified files from the National Archives in London and the National Archives in Maryland, the thesis discusses several important themes, for example, international concerns about human rights during the Cold War era, interpretations of humanitarianism, and Hong Kong’s autonomy in the age of decolonization. It argues that Britain exerted its international influence by forcing Hong Kong to be a first asylum for refugees. Hong Kong played an important role in demonstrating Britain’s contribution to resolving the refugee crisis. The colony served as a place for Britain’s proxy humanitarianism. This thesis shows that international expectations of human rights conflicted with local politics in Hong Kong. Unlike studies that stress Hong Kong’s increasing autonomy, this thesis shows that the colonial authorities played a passive role in the refugee crisis, and the British government still had the final say on Hong Kong’s refugee policy. This thesis comprises three chapters. The first chapter investigates the case of two freighters that rescued Vietnamese refugees in 1975 and 1976. The Danish-registered Clara Maersk arrived in Hong Kong on 30 April 1975, marking the beginning of the refugee crisis. As the British and Hong Kong governments were uncertain about the scale of the influx and had different expectations about Britain’s contribution to ending the refugee problem, the Clara Maersk incident triggered heated debates. The incident demonstrates how Britain’s domestic affairs led to the British government’s reluctant assistance to Hong Kong. The Burmese-registered Ava that arrived in Hong Kong on 6 July 1976 with ninety-eight refugees reveals the unclear responsibility for shipwrecked refugees rescued by foreign vessels. The Ava incident shows how Hong Kong’s refugee influx was treated as an American problem. The U.S. government saw Hong Kong’s regional role of strengthening Southeast Asian countries’ involvement in America’s refugee program. The second chapter investigates the second wave of Vietnamese refugees. The deteriorating Sino-Vietnamese relations in 1978 led to an exodus of ethnic Chinese from Vietnam. The Vietnamese government officially permitted the ethnic Chinese to leave in return for payment. This chapter examines the pre-arranged vessels that transported refugees to other countries under collaboration with the Vietnamese authorities. The final chapter focuses on how the British government relieved Hong Kong’s refugee burden as cheaply as possible. On the one hand, the British government wanted to show its contribution to resolving the refugee crisis by maintaining Hong Kong’s humanitarian policy. On the other hand, it did not want to take the Vietnamese refugees because of Britain’s own immigration problems. By initiating an international conference on Indochinese refugees, the British government internationalized the refugee problem and minimized its responsibility for the crisis.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectRefugees - China - Hong Kong
Refugees - Vietnam
Dept/ProgramHistory
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/210188

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorYuen, Hong-kiu-
dc.contributor.author袁康翹-
dc.date.accessioned2015-05-26T23:10:10Z-
dc.date.available2015-05-26T23:10:10Z-
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.identifier.citationYuen, H. [袁康翹]. (2014). Proxy humanitarianism : Hong Kong's Vietnamese refugee crisis, 1975-79. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5446493-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/210188-
dc.description.abstractSet against the backdrop of the Cold War and the declining British Empire, this thesis explores how the Hong Kong government handled the Vietnamese refugee crisis of the 1970s. The Vietnamese refugee influx started after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and temporarily stopped after the Geneva Conference on Indochinese refugees in 1979. Drawing extensively upon recently declassified files from the National Archives in London and the National Archives in Maryland, the thesis discusses several important themes, for example, international concerns about human rights during the Cold War era, interpretations of humanitarianism, and Hong Kong’s autonomy in the age of decolonization. It argues that Britain exerted its international influence by forcing Hong Kong to be a first asylum for refugees. Hong Kong played an important role in demonstrating Britain’s contribution to resolving the refugee crisis. The colony served as a place for Britain’s proxy humanitarianism. This thesis shows that international expectations of human rights conflicted with local politics in Hong Kong. Unlike studies that stress Hong Kong’s increasing autonomy, this thesis shows that the colonial authorities played a passive role in the refugee crisis, and the British government still had the final say on Hong Kong’s refugee policy. This thesis comprises three chapters. The first chapter investigates the case of two freighters that rescued Vietnamese refugees in 1975 and 1976. The Danish-registered Clara Maersk arrived in Hong Kong on 30 April 1975, marking the beginning of the refugee crisis. As the British and Hong Kong governments were uncertain about the scale of the influx and had different expectations about Britain’s contribution to ending the refugee problem, the Clara Maersk incident triggered heated debates. The incident demonstrates how Britain’s domestic affairs led to the British government’s reluctant assistance to Hong Kong. The Burmese-registered Ava that arrived in Hong Kong on 6 July 1976 with ninety-eight refugees reveals the unclear responsibility for shipwrecked refugees rescued by foreign vessels. The Ava incident shows how Hong Kong’s refugee influx was treated as an American problem. The U.S. government saw Hong Kong’s regional role of strengthening Southeast Asian countries’ involvement in America’s refugee program. The second chapter investigates the second wave of Vietnamese refugees. The deteriorating Sino-Vietnamese relations in 1978 led to an exodus of ethnic Chinese from Vietnam. The Vietnamese government officially permitted the ethnic Chinese to leave in return for payment. This chapter examines the pre-arranged vessels that transported refugees to other countries under collaboration with the Vietnamese authorities. The final chapter focuses on how the British government relieved Hong Kong’s refugee burden as cheaply as possible. On the one hand, the British government wanted to show its contribution to resolving the refugee crisis by maintaining Hong Kong’s humanitarian policy. On the other hand, it did not want to take the Vietnamese refugees because of Britain’s own immigration problems. By initiating an international conference on Indochinese refugees, the British government internationalized the refugee problem and minimized its responsibility for the crisis.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshRefugees - China - Hong Kong-
dc.subject.lcshRefugees - Vietnam-
dc.titleProxy humanitarianism : Hong Kong's Vietnamese refugee crisis, 1975-79-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5446493-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineHistory-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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