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Cultural relics of Zhong Shan gunboat on display at Museum of Coastal Defence


On January 28, 1997, a gunboat was salvaged from the bottom of the Changjiang River, putting an end of its dark days in deep sea for more than half a century. The gunboat, which witnessed the striking military events of the modern China, including Dr Sun Yat-sen's movement to protect the constitution, the mutiny in Guangzhou, the split of the Nationalist Party, and China's War of Resistance against Japan, is the renowned Zhong Shan gunboat.

Starting from tomorrow (January 24) until April 21, the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence (Museum of Coastal Defence) will, through its new exhibition "Cultural Relics of the Zhong Shan Gunboat", introduce to the general public the scale and unique features of the renowned gunboat and its vicissitudes in modern Chinese history. The exhibition will feature more than 50 artefacts borrowed from Wuhan, Hubei Province, supplemented with texts and historical photographs.

Originally called Yong Feng, the gunboat was renamed Zhong Shan in memory of Dr Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China. Yong Feng was initially ordered from Japan by the Qing court in 1910 with a view to re-establishing its navy. In March 1913, Yong Feng sailed to Shanghai of China to commence service and stationed at Yuezhou. In July 1917, it sailed to Guangzhou to join Sun who initiated the campaign of Northern Expedition with the aims of fighting against the northern warlords and protecting the parliament and the constitution. In 1922, the Guangdong warlord led by Chen Jiongming started a mutiny against Sun. Sun then went onto Yong Feng to lead his fleet to break the blockade and the gunboat barely escaped from destruction. Finally, Sun and his comrades left Yong Feng and were escorted by a British gunboat to Hong Kong, where they boarded a liner to Shanghai. In November 1924, Sun and his wife, Soong Qingling, boarded Yong Feng again and left Guangzhou for Beijing via Hong Kong. Following Sun's death in March 1925, Yong Feng was renamed Zhong Shan in the same year as a recognition of Sun's contribution to China. It was eventually sunk in October 1938 by Japanese fighter planes during the China's War of Resistance against Japan.

In commemoration of Sun and those who were sacrificed in the battle against Japan, the Hubei Provincial Cultural Bureau obtained the permission to start on a plan in 1986 to salvage the Zhong Shan gunboat. Lifted off the bottom of the Changjiang River in January 1997, more than 3,400 cultural relics were discovered from the Zhong Shan gunboat. When it was fully renovated in 2001, its appearance was restored as it was in 1925, and at the same time traces of damage caused in 1938 were preserved. When the construction of the floating dock for Zhong Shan gunboat is completed, the gunboat will become the first floating museum in China.

The "Cultural Relics of the Zhong Shan Gunboat" exhibition is jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Hubei Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau, and co-organised by the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Zhong Shan Gunboat Museum.

The Museum of Coastal Defence is located at 175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong. It opens from 10 am to 5 pm daily and closes on every Thursday (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Lunar New Year. Admission fee is $10, with half-price concession applicable to full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesday. For enquiries, please visit the Museum of Coastal Defence's website at or call 2569 1500.

End/Thursday, January 23, 2003

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