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History Museum highlights legacy of Chinese who studied abroad

Boundless Learning: Foreign-educated Students of Modern China, an exhibition about Chinese students who studied abroad and their contributions to the modernisation of China, will run from tomorrow (November 5) until February 9, 2004 at the Hong Kong Museum of History.

The exhibition begins with the story of Yung Wing, who departed for America in 1847, and continues all the way to the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Also examined are the achievements of some Hong Kong celebrities after they returned from studies overseas, illustrating the solid foundation which they helped to lay for the growth of China and Hong Kong.

As a country of profound civilisation, China for centuries attracted many foreign students. The trend was reversed after the mid-19th century when China, suffering repeated military defeats, recognised that to be strong, it had to send students abroad to acquire knowledge.

This development was closely related to the belief that if the Chinese could learn science, technology and Western culture, they could transform China into a developed country. Yung Wing, a prominent advocate of foreign education; Li Hongzhang and Zuo Zongtang, the leaders of the Self-strengthening Movement; and people who experienced China's defeat by Japan in 1894, the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki the year after, and the May Fourth Movement, were deeply affected by this conviction; they acted on it by studying abroad themselves or helping others to do so.

Speaking at the opening ceremony today (November 4), the Deputy Director (Culture) of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Choi Suk-kuen, noted that foreign education had enriched the knowledge and enhanced the status of students.

"They made remarkable achievements which shaped their own destiny as well as that of modern China, making her one of the world's powerful nations," said Ms Choi.

Some 250 exhibits will give visitors an insight into the lives and thinking of foreign-educated students. They include correspondence, manuscripts of assignments, photo albums, diaries, clothing, academic certificates and graduation albums.

The seven topics of the exhibition are The Earliest Foreign-educated Chinese, Period of the Self-strengthening Movement, Japan Fever, Revival of Interest in Europe and America, Impact of the New Culture Movement, the Nationalist Government, and the Foreign-educated Elite of Modern Hong Kong.

The careers of prominent and successful figures such as Yung Wing, Jeme Tien Yow, Lu Xun, Hu Shi, Xu Zhimo, Zhou Enlai, Zhu Zhiqing, Qian Zongshu, Xu Beihong, Yang Chen Ning and Chow Shouson are examined.

The exhibition is jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the National Museum of China, and organised by the Museum of History.

The Museum of History is located at 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays).

Admission to "Boundless Learning: Foreign-educated Students of Modern China" is $10, with a half-price concession for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. There is no free admission on Wednesdays.

For further information, please visit the Museum of History's website at . For enquiries, please call 2724 9042.

Ends/Tuesday, November 4, 2003
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