This thesis studies the relationship between the South China Morning Post and its audiences. To be viable and profitable in the Hong Kong media market, the SCMP had to meet the various needs of its Chinese and British readership. For example, British readers were serious sports fans and the SCMP endeavoured to be the best newspaper to target its wealthy British audience who was obsessed with the game of lawn bowls. Because playing fields were mainly granted to the British ex-pats over Chinese citizens, the sports pages of the SCMP mainly attracted British audiences. Chinese readers were generally merchants who were concerned about their businesses in China and Hong Kong. Hong Kong as an international trade and shipping centre provided both the SCMP and Chinese merchants an opportunity to grow through Chinese and British Imperial business networks. As a result, the SCMP represented the interests of Chinese merchants in its various reporting about China in the first half of the twentieth century.
Although the Hong Kong government executed a strict censorship against the Chinese press, the SCMP was free from censorship most of the time; consequently, it could publish sensitive and important events that Chinese subscribers desired to read and comment upon. In particular, Chinese audiences could express their concerns and attempt to mould the opinions of other readers because of reports, editorials and correspondence published in the SCMP. While the Chinese had limited influence in the British colonial government, the SCMP played an important role in improving Chinese audience freedom of expression and its social position in the course of consensus building in Hong Kong. In this manner, the SCMP had an economic, political and social function in the making of Hong Kong in the first half of twentieth century.