The British at Wei-Hai-Wei : a case study of an ill-fated colony, 1898-1906

  • Rong KONG

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


In 1898, Russia, Germany and France forced the Qing government to cede them one territory each, which challenged the traditional predominance of the British in China. The British lost no time to acquire leased territories in the era of scrambling for concessions. Wei-Hai-Wei, an isolated leasehold in Northern China, was therefore occupied by the British.

Two years after the takeover, Wei-Hai-Wei was transferred from the Admiralty and the War Office to the Colonial Office. However, the British invested little to construct this territory during its 32-year leasehold. Faced with limited funds, the Commissioner, James Stewart Lockhart, took several measures to develop the leasehold- all of which failed. The uncertain tenure of Wei Hai Wei, as many then policy-makers stated, played a very important part in discouraging Parliament’s financial support. Besides its intrinsic limits, the British policy and international factors also influenced the status of the colony. My research focuses on why and how the British changed their policy at Wei Hai Wei in its early days and what the Commissioner did to develop this colony. I will analyze the reason why Wei Hai Wei turned into an ill-fated and ignored colony of the British Empire. I argue that although the British kept the territory for 32 years in total (1898-1930), its development and future was mostly determined in its first ten years of leasehold. Researching the first decade of Wei Hai Wei can provide insight into British imperial policy in northern China in the late 19th and early the 20th century.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of History
SupervisorChi Pang LAU (Supervisor) & Xiaorong HAN (Supervisor)

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