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Cheung Chau's European Reservation
You know that the Peak was once off-limits to Chinese residents. But did you know that a large part of Cheung Chau was too?
The "Cheung Chau (Residence) Ordinance, 1919", passed on August 28th that year, stated "no person shall reside within that southern portion without the consent of the Governor-in-council."
Here's a map from 1938 , showing the European "southern portion" and the boundary that separated it from the Chinese north:
1919 - A racial or economic division?
In 1919 when this law was proposed in the Legislative Council , the two Chinese members were firmly against it. Mr Ho Fook declared:
"In view of the fact that the war [World War I] has been won by all races in the Empire I cannot be party to the passing of the Bill which, in my opinion, is nothing less than racial legislation. I hope you will see your way to withdraw this Bill as suggested by my colleague."
The British expressed surprise, and stuck to the line that this law was intended to preserve the southern area as a place where British and American missionaries could live with their families. The missionaries needed a place to rest after spending time working in Southern China. They had previously used the Peak for that purpose, but it had become too expensive so they had turned to Cheung Chau. Now there was the risk that would also become too expensive, so they'd turned to the British government for protection.
The law gave the missionaries the protection they needed, and was "an entirely economic question and not a racial question at all."
The law was passed that same day, "Mr Lau Chu Pak and Mr Ho Fook voting against it."
c.1925 - A beach for the Europeans
Sean sent us the following photo of Kwun Yam Beach (aka Afternoon Beach) on Cheung Chau, with notes:
Came across this picture among some family pictures. On the back is written "One corner of the beach only for Europeans on the other side is one for the Chinese".
The handwriting is my great aunt's and I would date the picture to the early to mid 1920s.
Kwun Yam beach was south of the boundary line. Just a few years after the law was passed, the division of the island was already clear.
1938 - Who lived there?
The 1938 map of Cheung Chau shown at http://gwulo.com/map-of-places#15/22.2054/114.0286/Map_by_ESRI-1938_Cheu... has a list of the 36 houses in the European area:
|1.||16. Mr J A Kempf|
|2. Mr E C Mitchell||17. Mr N G Wright|
|3. Mr Johnston||17A. Mr N G Rodine|
|3A.||18. Mr G F Sauer|
|4.||18A. Dr Cleft|
|5. T W Pearse (London Mission)||19. Mr W W Cadbury|
|6. Mr P N Anderson||20. Mr Smith|
|7. Mr I. J. Lossius||21. Mrs L. Franklin|
|7A.||22. Mr R A Jaffray|
|8. Mr C A Hayes||23. Mr C G Alabaster|
|9. N Z Pres Mission||24. Mr M R Vickers|
|10. Treas. N Z Presbtn Mission||25. Mr J M Dickson|
|11. Mr Rev. L J Lowe||26. Mr C M Dos Remedios|
|12. Mr Smyth||27. Mr T H Rousseau|
|12A. Mr Sonvea||27A. Mr Kastmann|
|13. Mr A H Mackenzie||28. Mr P Hinkey|
|14. Mr J C Mitchell||29. Mr A J Brown|
|15. Mr J J Lossius||30. Mr Smith|
Despite the British comments in 1919, the law had had a clear racial effect - there are no Chinese names on the list.
Then how about the stated goal to create an area for missionaries to live? In 1938 were the European houses owned by:
- church / missionary organisations,
- landlords renting them out as a business, or
- private owners who wanted a holiday home away from the city?
Though the list doesn't say if it shows residents or owners, I believe they're owners as the same name appears next to more than one house. Then only four houses, 5, 9, 10 and 11, list owners with a clear church / missionary connection.
Among the other names I only recognise Mr Lossius , owner of houses 7 and 15. We've seen a letter from him published in 1907 , where he proclaims the benefits of "Christian Science", so he may have been listed as owner on their behalf.
Does anyone recognise any of the other names, and can say whether they suggest private or church ownership?
1946 - The law is repealed
In July 1946, Bills were introduced to repeal both laws that restricted residence on the Peak and in south Cheung Chau . In both cases the Attorney General noted that "it would be out of harmony with the spirit of the times to retain the Ordinance".
Ho Fook had tried a similar approach in 1919, but it took WW2 to bring the British side around to his line of argument!
Later that month the Bills were passed, and the laws repealed.
1950s - Did anyone tell Cheung Chau the law had been repealed?
When I was a girl I lived on Cheung Chau from 1950 to 1954 [...]. Being an American I lived in a house on the southern hill just past the Bible School. For most of the time I lived there only one other family lived fulltime on the hills so five of us kids had the full run of the island above the village. The Kwun Yan beach (called Afternoon Beach by the English) was restricted to Europeans and strictly enforced. Tung Wan Beach (called the Chinese Beach) was the only one the village people could use and swimming and sunbathing were not a popular past time for the native people so didn't get a lot of use. 
Does anyone know who it was that "strictly enforced" the access to the beach? And when did the segregation finally stop?
2012 - What remains?
The boundary: Although the boundary no longer has any legal meaning, several of its granite markers are still standing. Here's a photo of the northern stone, marked BS1 on the 1938 map, but painted as "B.S. No. 14" today. A building has grown up around it, but it is still in its original location:
A church presence: Modern maps shows many church sites in south Cheung Chau: Caritas Ming Fai Camp, Salesian Retreat House, Shun Yee Lutheran Village, etc. How many can trace the ownership of their site back to the pre-WW2 days?
The 1938 buildings: Are there any of the buildings from the 1938 map still standing? The "I lived on Cheung Chau from 1950 to 1954" writer suggests not:
The trees had all been cut down by the Japanese during the occupation of WWII so the island was quite barren back then. They also knocked down many of the houses on the hills to get the rebar out and when I lived there the remaing walls and rubble made great "play grounds". 
The European beach: Last year I was lucky to visit Cheung Chau with Don Ady and Laura Darnell. Their fathers were American missionaries, and Don and Laura had lived on Cheung Chau shortly before the Japanese invasion in 1941.
During our visit we had a very kind local gentleman join us to show us around. He took us over to Kwun Yam beach, and commented:
"This beach seems more popular with the Westerners than the Chinese. I don't know why that is."
Maybe the effects of that 1919 law still haven't completely faded away.
If you have any comments / questions / corrections, or you can add any memories of Cheung Chau, please let us know in the comments below.
- The 1938 map is available in the Hong Kong Public Records Office, ref: MM-0094. Here it is shown overlaying a present-day satellite view of the island. Red markers represent Places that have a page on Gwulo. Orange markers represent the numbered houses that are shown on the paper map. You can read instructions on how to get the most from the map here.
- See the minutes of the Hong Kong legislative council for 28th August, 1919.
- Jacob Johan LOSSIUS (aka Iacob) [1853-1942]
- Comment to 
- The Bills to repeal the two ordinances were first read on 19th July, 1946 (see minutes). They were read a second & third time, and passed into law on 25th July, 1946 (see minutes).
- Comments on the Hong Kong Outdoors website.