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American “China Hands” in the 1950S

  • Chi-kwan Mark

Abstract

Americans have long played a part in the making of modern Hong Kong, beginning in 1842. Early that year, an American Protestant missionary, Jehu Lewis Shuck, came from Macau and founded the island’s first Christian church on Queen’s Road (named the Queen’s Road Chapel).1 In 1843, United States officials arrived to open the first foreign consulate in the colony. American merchants were likewise attracted to the free port, establishing one of the largest trading firms there, Russell & Company. 2 Nevertheless, until the second half of the twentieth century the American community in Hong Kong remained small, and their interests and influence were limited. Indeed, it was mainland China, rather than Hong Kong itself, that caught the imagination of most American sojourners. Hong Kong was seen primarily as a springboard to China, a country in which there were more Chinese to convert, more economic opportunities to exploit, and more political interests to protect.3

Keywords

Central Intelligence Agency Host Government Export Control Home Government Intelligence Gathering 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Wang Gungwu, ed., Xianggangshi xinbian (Hong Kong History: New Perspectives), vol. II (Hong Kong: Joint Publishing (H.K.) Co., 1997), p. 743.Google Scholar
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    An American missionary institution which moved its operations from the mainland to Hong Kong after 1949 was Yale-in-China. See Nancy E. Chapman, The Yale-China Association: A Centennial History (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2001), pp. 77–93.Google Scholar
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    The term American “China Hands” in Hong Kong is used here as a shorthand for all consuls general, consuls, vice-consuls, political and economic officers, and information officers within the U.S. consulate general in Hong Kong, notwithstanding their differences of background and outlook. They all shared striking similarities in their attitude toward China and U.S. operations in Hong Kong, as discussed later. The term, however, does not include covert specialists of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Hong Kong station, which was attached to, but nonetheless acted independently of the American consulate. Although some American missionaries and scholars in Hong Kong could be classified as “China Hands” in this sense, they are not the focus of this chapter.Google Scholar
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© Cindy Yik-yi Chu 2005

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  • Chi-kwan Mark

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