The Aftermath of the First Sino-Japanese War: The Lease of the New Territories and Weihaiwei
9 April – 9 June 2014
1/F Lobby, Hong Kong Museum of History
Leisure and Cultural Services Department
In collaboration with
National Library of Scotland
Hong Kong Museum of History
The First Sino-Japanese War that broke out between 1894 and 1895 was a turning point in the modern history of China: it marked the failure of the Self-Strengthening Movement, the three decades of modernising efforts undertaken by the Qing government to introduce advanced Western military technology to China; the international political order in East Asia was turned upside down by the Japanese defeat of the Qing empire, which had long considered itself ‘the central kingdom', while in its aftermath it triggered a scramble among the major powers to carve out concessions for themselves; and Japan's militarism received an enormous boost. At the same time, the voices calling for China to be saved grew ever more strident at home, with feelings of nationalism reaching unprecedented levels and spurring revolutionary efforts towards their inevitable climax: within less than twenty years of the war, the Qing dynasty had been toppled in the revolutionary campaign led by Dr Sun Yat-sen.
To mark the 120th anniversary of the First Sino-Japanese War in 2014, the Hong Kong Museum of History hosted this exhibition to explore the context in which the New Territories and also Weihaiwei in Shandong were leased to Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Based on extensive material drawn from the Collection of Sir James Stewart Lockhart held by the National Library of Scotland, it provided an insight into how Britain implemented its governing policies in the leased lands as a means to strengthen its political and business interests in China. Viewers will also learn about the unique social settings of the New Territories and Weihaiwei in this era at the turn of the last century and gain a perspective on how the two locations, despite being thousands of miles apart, were connected through the British official known simply as Stewart Lockhart.