Hong Kong has always been an anomaly even in the context of the very diverse systems by which Britain ruled its numerous territories around the globe. It began and ended as unique despite appearances of being just another small Crown Colony. The very word colony was a misnomer from the start. As the report of an 1847 British House of Commons Select Committee into Commercial Relations with China noted, it was more “a post for general influence and the protection of the general trade in the China seas than a colony in the ordinary sense”. It was not a place for Britons to settle, just a post for trade, a free port open to the trade of all nations. Thus it has, by and large, remained for 170 years.