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Hong Kong's Watershed

The 1967 Riots

Gary Ka-wai Cheung

Publication Year: 2009

The book provides an account of the 1967 riots in Hong Kong and the social background to the disturbances. It also details the impact of the riots, ranging from forcing the colonial government to introduce long overdue social reforms and adjust its governing strategy to reinforcing the cleavage between the left wing and the mainstream society.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The 1967 riots appear to have vanished from Hong Kong history if you tour around the Hong Kong Museum of History which features The Hong Kong Story, a permanent exhibition at the government-run museum. The exhibition traces the city’s development from prehistoric times to the reunification with China in 1997. However, none of the over 4,000 exhibits displayed in the galleries is related to the ...

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pp. 1-8

After the Hong Kong Artificial Flower Works sacked about 650 workers in April 1967 for refusing to accept new work regulations, few would have expected it to have repercussions that are still felt today. In those days when Hong Kong was described by some Western media as a colonial “sweatshop”, sacking workers was routine as factory workers had virtually no protection for their basic labour rights and dismissals by employers without ...

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01: Prelude to the 1967 riots

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pp. 9-22

For passers-by near Star Ferry pier in Central and commuters rushing there to catch ferries, April 4, 1966 appeared to be just another uneventful day. Yet the appearance of a 25-year-old man in the Star Ferry Concourse at 11 a.m. upset the hush and changed the course of Hong Kong history. The young man wore a black jacket with the English words “Staging hunger strike, Opposing fare increase” painted on its back ...

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02: Labour dispute at the Hong Kong Artificial Flower Works

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pp. 23-42

The hot summer of 1967 began in May, with the highest temperature reaching 34.4 degrees Celsius.1 The sweltering heat apparently presaged the upcoming heated political struggle between the colonial government and the leftist camp. The political storm started in a plastic flower factory in San Po Kong, Kowloon. The plastic flower industry had emerged as a booming industry in Hong Kong since ...

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03: The Garden Road incident on May 22, 1967

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pp. 43-56

Starting from May 19, demonstrators from the leftist camp besieged the Government House for several days under the watchful eyes of the policemen deployed outside the colonial mansion. In the first few days, the demonstrators managed to maintain reasonably good order. Their actions were largely confined to sticking “big-character posters” and reciting phrases from Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung outside ...

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04: People’s Daily editorial on June 3 and the general strikes

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pp. 57-70

The British and Hong Kong governments recognized that Hong Kong would be indefensible if Beijing was determined to take over the colony forcibly. But based on the judgment that Beijing was not the mastermind behind the disturbances in Hong Kong and had no intention of taking back the colony by force, British authorities declined to accede to the demands put forward by the left wing and handled the ...

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05: The Sha Tau Kok incident and bomb attacks

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pp. 71-94

The disturbances took a dramatic twist on July 8 when a border conflict erupted in Sha Tau Kok, a New Territories village bordering Shenzhen, taking the tensionto an unprecedented level. According to the account by the Hong Kong government, hundreds of demonstrators began to gather in Sha Tau Kok (it lies half in China and half in the New Territories) at 9:30 a.m., July 8. A machine-gun ...

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06: Britain’s plan for emergency evacuation of Hong Kong

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pp. 95-100

Despite a public undertaking by London and the colonial administration to maintain law and order in Hong Kong during the 1967 riots, the British government started to deliberate the scenario of withdrawal from Hong Kong as the confrontation escalated. The British government had prepared an evacuation plan for Hong Kong in the early 1950s (DIGIT), which provided for evacuation of 16,500 non-Chinese ...

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07: Hawks and doves within the British government in handling the disturbances

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pp. 101-108

While the Hong Kong and British governments shared the consensus of standing firm against the leftist-inspired disturbances, there were subtle differences in the approach adopted by the Hong Kong government and that adopted by London and British diplomats in Beijing. The differences in their interpretation of the situations were also notable at times. While Governor David Trench adopted an aggressive and ...

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08: The arson attack on the office of British charged' d'affaires and the murder of Lam Bun

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pp. 109-120

Since the outbreak of the riots in May, the colonial government had been of the view that “seditious” articles published by leftist newspapers had undermined public morale and was eager to take action against them. As early as May, Governor David Trench had suggested taking action against Wen Wei Po, a major pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong, as one of the measures to maintain public confidence....

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09: Finale to the Hong Kong-style Cultural Revolution

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pp. 121-130

The burning of the British diplomatic compound in Beijing strengthened the hand of the moderate faction led by Zhou Enlai. It also set the stage for secret talks between the left wing and the Hong Kong government to ease the tensions in the colony. George Walden, assistant political adviser to the governor during the 1967 riots, said that the mainland authorities were looking for a way out after the mayhem. ...

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10: Impact of the 1967 riots

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pp. 131-142

The left wing paid a heavy price for instigating the riots which briefly brought the Hong Kong society to a standstill. In the beginning of the labour dispute at the Hong Kong Artificial Flower Works, some members of the public were sympathetic with the workers who joined the strike. The left wing, however, quickly dropped the labour issues and the call for improving labour rights. Instead, they positioned ...

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11: Recollections and reflections by key players in the disturbances

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pp. 143-220

Cater was at times deep in thought when he recollected the disturbances in 1967, one of the most painful chapters in Hong Kong’s recent history. During the 1967 riots, Cater was then personal assistant to the governor and deputy colonial secretary (special duties). After Governor David Trench went on leave to England for health reasons at the end of June in 1967, Cater was one of the top government officials ...


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pp. 221-226


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pp. 227-236


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pp. 237-238


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pp. 239-242

E-ISBN-13: 9789888052363
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622090897

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Hong Kong (China) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Riots -- China -- Hong Kong -- History -- 20th century.
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