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I had a difficulty in understanding a usage in the sentence below. What kind of meaning does "ONLY" which is placed just before "managed" give to the sentence? Can you rephrase it please?

Problems in farming and a looming energy crisis hampered prosperity and economic growth, but Hong Kong only managed to maintain its traditional economic and cultural ties with the rest of the world.
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Hi,
I had a difficulty in understanding a usage in the sentence below. What kind of meaning does "ONLY" which is placed just before "managed" give to the sentence? Can you rephrase it please?

Problems in farming and a looming energy crisis hampered prosperity and economic growth, but Hong Kong only managed to maintain its traditional economic and cultural ties with the rest of the world.

First, let's consider a much simpler example.

The policeman shouted 'Stop!', but the robber only ran faster.

This sentence has two parts,as you can see.

'But' shows that the second part contrasts in some way with the first part. The policeman wants the robber to stop. The robber doesn't stop. He runs faster.

'Only' tells us that 'running faster' is the single or main thing that the robber does after the policeman tells him to stop.

Now let's look at your sentence.
The first part tells us that problems hampered the economy.
The second part tells us that Hong Kong was able to maintain its various ties with the rest of the world.
'But' tells us the second part contrasts with the first part. ie we would expect the economic problems to cause Hong Kong to have problems with its ties, but it didn't.
'Only' tells us that maintaining its ties with the rest of the world was the main thing that Hong Kong did.

Best wishes, Clive
Thank you very much Clive, this helped a lot. So, could "but...instead" replace "but...only" in the sentence above?

And is C right for the answer given according to the passage below?

By the end of the twentieth century, East Asia had become a centre of industrial and manufacturing production. Especially China began to establish commercial ties with the West in the 1970s and became the world’s leading heavy industrial producer by the year 2000. Its state-owned companies acquired contracts from Western firms to produce products cheaply and in bulk, for sale back to home markets in the United States and Europe. Moreover, the Chinese government established semicapitalist commercial zones around major port cities like Shanghai. These commercial zones were intended to encourage massive foreign investment on terms that left China a favourable balance of trade for its huge volume of cheap exports. Yet, in practice, they enjoyed only mixed success. Problems in farming and a looming energy crisis hampered prosperity and economic growth, but Hong Kong only managed to maintain its traditional economic and cultural ties with the rest of the world. However, in recent years, China has overcome most of these problems and radically upgraded its economic performance.


68. It is stated in the passage that Hong Kong ----.


A) was the major exporter of cheap products to the United States and Europe
B) contributed enormously to the emergence of China as an economic power in East Asia
C) was not affected at all by the decline of prosperity and economic growth in the rest of China
D) took immediate measures to prevent the looming energy crisis in the area
E) was a major centre of industrial and manufacturing production in China in the 1970s

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All responses except C can be eliminated as wrong, so the answer must be C.
I think it should have read: ..., but only Hong Kong managed to maintain ...
It doesn't make sense to me as written.
CJ
Hi,
Problems in farming and a looming energy crisis hampered prosperity and economic growth, but Hong Kong only managed to maintain its traditional economic and cultural ties with the rest of the world.
So, could "but...instead" replace "but...only" in the sentence above?

No. Consider this example.
(Tom was sitting in the park.)

It rained heavily, but Tom only stayed in the park.
In the bold sentence, you can't replace 'but . . . only' with 'but . . . instead', because part 2 did not happen instead of part one. Both of them happened.
It's the same with your more complex sentence.

And is C right for the answer given according to the passage below?

By the end of the twentieth century, East Asia had become a centre of industrial and manufacturing production. Especially China began to establish commercial ties with the West in the 1970s and became the world’s leading heavy industrial producer by the year 2000. Its state-owned companies acquired contracts from Western firms to produce products cheaply and in bulk, for sale back to home markets in the United States and Europe. Moreover, the Chinese government established semicapitalist commercial zones around major port cities like Shanghai. These commercial zones were intended to encourage massive foreign investment on terms that left China a favourable balance of trade for its huge volume of cheap exports. Yet, in practice, they enjoyed only mixed success. Problems in farming and a looming energy crisis hampered prosperity and economic growth, but Hong Kong only managed to maintain its traditional economic and cultural ties with the rest of the world. However, in recent years, China has overcome most of these problems and radically upgraded its economic performance.


68. It is stated in the passage that Hong Kong --.


A) was the major exporter of cheap products to the United States and Europe
B) contributed enormously to the emergence of China as an economic power in East Asia
C) was not affected at all by the decline of prosperity and economic growth in the rest of China
D) took immediate measures to prevent the looming energy crisis in the area
E) was a major centre of industrial and manufacturing production in China in the 1970s

C is obviously intended to be the correct answer. However, I have some reservations abouit the wording. For example, the passage does not say that prosperity and economic growth declined in China. It just says that they were 'hampered', which could mean that they contiued to grow but not at the same rate as before.

Best wishes, Clive

Yet another question:

And how can I understand whether "but Hong Kong only managed to maintain its traditional economic and cultural ties with the rest of world" means "but it barely managed to..."? Isn't there ambiguity here?
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Mamger Yet another question:

And how can I understand whether "but Hong Kong only managed to maintain its traditional economic and cultural ties with the rest of world" means "but it barely managed to..."? Isn't there ambiguity here?

There is ambiguity. In fact I couldn't make sense of the sentence in question until CJ suggested this as most likely what the writer meant: but only Hong Kong managed to maintain

If you rewrite it like that you eliminate the ambiguity and it suddenly makes sense. Thanks, CJ.