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Power and Charity

Power and Charity: A Chinese Merchant Elite in Colonial Hong Kong (with a new preface)

Elizabeth Sinn
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 340
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  • Book Info
    Power and Charity
    Book Description:

    Through the history of a charitable institution, the Tung Wah Hospital, Elizabeth Sinn reshapes and greatly deepens our understanding of the evolving interactions between the Chinese community in Hong Kong and the colonial rulers. She traces the rise to power of the Chinese merchants who organized and operated the Hospital and the complex relationships that the Hospital developed with the colonial regime, Mainland Chinese officials and the Chinese people of Hong Kong.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-250-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Plates
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface to the Paperback Edition
    (pp. ix-xxvi)
    Elizabeth Sinn
  5. Preface to the Original Edition
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
    Elizabeth Sinn
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxix-xxix)
  7. Romanization
    (pp. xxx-xxx)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    For the Tung Wah Hospital, the years 1869 to 1896 were significant and dramatic. An inquest into the death of a Chinese emigrant in 1869 revealed the appalling lack of medical facilities for the Chinese community in Hong Kong, causing a scandal which rocked the colony and reverberated in London. In the wake of the scandal emerged the Tung Wah Hospital, which went on to carry out philanthropic work on a grand scale, winning wide acclaim, not least of which came from the Emperor of China himself. Its Committee, whose members wore Chinese Mandarin robes on formal occasions, soon grew...

  9. 1 The Chinese Community before the Tung Wah Hospital
    (pp. 7-29)

    The Tung Wah Hospital’s emergence in 1869 was a turning point in the medical, social, and political history of Hong Kong, and one can fully appreciate its impact only by looking at the situation in Hong Kong before 1869.

    Hong Kong’s early history was one of segregation — segregation between the government and the Chinese community. Segregation was, for the most part, a tacitly agreed principle in their co-existence. When this was inexpedient and they were forced to meet on the same plane, they groped for ways to communicate.

    It was an experiment. Though by 1841 the British had been governing...

  10. 2 The Origin of the Tung Wah Hospital
    (pp. 30-49)

    There is a tendency to write about social institutions in terms of patterns and models as though they were inevitable and merely stereotypes. To the historian this approach has only limited value. Generalizations based on a flat time-dimension only answer questions about certain abstracted factors of behaviour without enhancing historical understanding. Society is not static and human affairs happen in time. To understand them, we need to look at them in historical context. Though we may classify institutions, no two institutions are identical. Each exists in a particular place and time and, in that sense, each is a unique historical...

  11. 3 Management, Organization, and Development, 1869–1894
    (pp. 50-81)

    The Tung Wah Hospital building was opened on 14 February 1872 with great fanfare. All the newspapers reported on the ‘greatest ever witnessed’ ceremony in Hong Kong.¹ It began at an early hour. Between 70 and 80 Hospital Committee members assembled at the kung-so next to the Man Mo Temple. They were all dressed in ceremonial robes, some even with peacock feathers attached to their headwear, showing off their official titles. A little before eight o’clock, accompanied by a band of Chinese musicians, they proceeded from Hollywood Road down to Bonham Strand, the Chinese business centre, and back again toward...

  12. 4 The Tung Wah Hospital Committee as the Local Élite
    (pp. 82-120)

    In traditional Chinese society it was the local élite rather than the official administration which largely managed local affairs.¹ It acted as the bridge between the magistrate and the local community, settled disputes, conducted fund-raising campaigns, commanded local defence, and provided education and welfare of all kinds. It also professed to spread a moralizing influence on the locality by upholding Confucian principles.²

    Until recently, scholars assumed that these functions were carried out exclusively by the shen (gentry), defined as degree-holders.³ However, some scholars are now showing that in many regions groups other than degree-holders had performed those functions,⁴ and even...

  13. 5 Criticism, Confrontation, and Control
    (pp. 121-158)

    The Tung Wah Hospital as a local leadership group saw its heyday in the 1870s and the opening years of the 1880s. This chapter will describe how its ascendency was challenged and examine how new circumstances arose to erode its dominant position.

    From the start, hostility towards the Hospital Committee was expressed in the English-language press. In so far as the newspapers affected the European community’s opinion, as well as being a means for expressing it, they reflect the relations between the Tung Wah Hospital and that community. Moreover, as the English-speaking sector in the Chinese community grew, the influence...

  14. Plates
    (pp. None)
  15. 6 Crisis: The Plague, 1894
    (pp. 159-183)

    Crises — be they floods, wars, economic collapse, epidemics — bring out the best and the worst in people. They tear down the façade of rationality shored up by the routines of daily life, which are themselves disrupted. Formalities that cushion the shocks of contact between individuals and between institutions disintegrate, the contacts turning into naked confrontation. In the panic and mass hysteria, the contradictions of society — racial discrimination, social and legal injustice, cultural conflicts — normally subdued and tolerated, are accentuated and become unbearable. However well maintained in normal times, the social fabric could become irredeemably torn apart. The willingness to consult...

  16. 7 A New Crisis: Toward Integration
    (pp. 184-208)

    The plague had led to confrontation between the Tung Wah Hospital and the government; at the same time, it also led to a confrontation between Western medical doctors and the Hospital authorities which was in every way as bitter and far-reaching in its consequences.

    Contagious disease, it is claimed, has historically been the spur to public health reforms.¹ In Britain, the tendency towards centralization and standardization in the administration of public health began in the 1840s and gained momentum during the 1870s, urged on by growing faith in the supremacy of sanitation in maintaining health. The plague allowed this tendency...

  17. Epilogue
    (pp. 209-212)

    The Tung Wah Hospital of the nineteenth century defies simple classification and its story up to 1896 shows that it was indeed many things to many people.

    But the Tung Wah story does not stop in 1896. As a hospital, it went on to expand in terms of space, service, and facilities. In 1931 the Kwong Wah (Guanghua) Hospital, founded in 1911, and the Eastern Hospital, founded in 1929, were amalgamated with it under a single management to form the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals. Even when the part Western medicine played grew and Chinese medicine became subsidiary, it continued...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 213-266)
  19. Appendices
    (pp. 267-278)
  20. Glossary
    (pp. 279-282)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 283-296)
  22. Index
    (pp. 297-306)