The official guidebook of the British Empire Exhibition (1925) | 1925 | G.C. Lawrence (editor); Fleetway Press Ltd. (London) | travel guidebook | paper | 13.8 x 21.3cm

英京賽會的大會指南(1925年) | 1925年 | G.C. Lawrence (編者);艦隊出版社公司(倫敦) | 旅遊指南 | 紙張 | 13.8 x 21.3釐米

ac002.png

Sir Chow Shouson and Sir Robert Hotung – two key figures of the local Chinese elite – were appointed Honorary Associate Commissioners of the Hong Kong Section. It was rare for indigenous people of dominions and colonies to be appointed to such key positions, however honorary, at the exhibition.

 

周壽臣爵士及何東爵士兩名本地華人精英被委任為香港展區的名譽副理事專員。儘管只是榮譽性質,自領地及殖民地的本地人在英京賽會中被委以如此重任,並不常見。

By the 1920s, Hong Kong had been colonised by Britain for 80 years and had experienced many changes. The City of Victoria, the political and economic centre, was fairly developed and of a decent size. The colony continued to be an important trading post between Asia and Europe. Hong Kong had also modernised and industrialised by the 1920s and played an important role in the economy of southern China. The city attracted investors and visitors, as well as dissidents and other rebels.

In the exhibition halls Hong Kong was described as a modern industrial city and trade centre, with a strong contribution from British merchants. Hong Kong was presented as the Empire’s largest ship-building colony. Contrasting Hong Kong’s pre-colonial history and the changes after the introduction of British business culture, Hong Kong’s “progress” was presented as an achievement of British colonisation. This representation of “progress” is similar to other colonial sections.

The Exhibition strengthened the identity of Hong Kong’s British community but it had minimal impact on the city’s Chinese population (including some Eurasians). The Chinese exhibitors did not regard it as a showcase of British colonialism. They were much more concerned about threats to their interests amid the rise of communism in Hong Kong. As for potential friction arising from the Exhibition, the involvements of Chinese elites helped avoided discontent among the local Chinese community. Two of its notable leaders, Sir Chow Shouson and Sir Robert Hotung, were appointed Honorary Associate Commissioners of the Hong Kong Section. At Wembley Park itself, the Chinese exhibitors were more concerned with how business at their shops was faring.

The design of the Hong Kong Pavilion highlighted the colony’s links to Chinese history and culture. While it cut a striking figure at Wembley Park, the pavilion looked little different to Chinese pavilions at other early exhibitions. It did not convey Hong Kong’s particular status, i.e. a city between Britain and China in which a distinctive culture and identity had developed. The Chinese Street, sometimes also referred as the Hong Kong Street, reproduced the colony’s busy commercial ambiance. It was this that probably represented the Hong Kong of the day most accurately.

ac002a.png

及至1920年代,香港已被英國殖民了80年,亦經歷了許多轉變。政治及經濟中心維多利亞城已發展得頗具規模。這個殖民地繼續是亞洲與歐洲之間重要的貿易港。另外,香港在1920年代亦已現代化及工業化,並對華南的經濟擁有重要的地位,因此吸引了投資者、遊客,以及異見人士及其他反抗者。

在展覽廳內,香港被形容為現代化的工業城巿及貿易中心,當中英商的貢獻良多。香港亦被展示為帝國內造船業最龐大的殖民地。將香港成為殖民地之前的歷史,以及自英國的商業文化湧入後的轉變作出對比,香港的「進步」被展述為英國殖民主義的成就。這種表述「進步」的方式跟其他殖民地展區相似。

這場博覽會強化了香港的英國人社群的身份,但對城內的華人(包括部份歐亞混血兒)的影響則有限。華人參展商並沒有將博覽會視為英國帝國主義的展覽廳。他們更關心的,是剛在香港出現的共產主義所帶來的危機。為避免英京賽會可能帶來的磨擦,華人精英的參與能協助疏導本地華人社群的不滿。當中兩位著名的華人領袖——周壽臣爵士及何東爵士被委任為香港展區榮譽副專員。至於在溫布萊公園內,華人參展商則較為關心他們店舖的生意。

另一方面,香港館的設計強調了這座殖民地與中國歷史及文化的關係。儘管在溫布萊公園內引人注目,但香港館的設計與其他早期博覽會的中華館的外觀並沒有太大分別,並未能傳達香港的獨特地位——一座在英國及中國之間、並已發展出獨特的文化及身份的城巿,而「中華街」(有時亦被稱為「香港街」)複製了香港一條繁忙的街道的商業氣氛,大概最能夠準確表述當時的香港。

[1] South China Morning Post, February 24, 1928.

[2] The Chinese Street.

[3] Dun’s Gazette for New South Wales, September 19, 1927.

[4] Daily Commercial News and Shipping List, January 20, 1933.

[5] Dun’s Gazette for New South Wales, July 17, 1933.

[6] The China Weekly Review, April 11, 1931.

[7] Wordie, J. (2019). “How American missionaries gave southern China its Swatow lace industry”, South China Morning Post, January 5, 2019.