When Britain took control of Hong Kong at the end of the First Opium War did British Europeans stay and intermix (intermix=make new humans)?

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    Welcome to History:SE. What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? What did you find? Please help us to help you. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. Jan 28, 2020 at 1:48
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    In particular, specify what you mean by "intermix": do business together, socialize, have wealthy Brits hire Chinese servants, have sex (with or without formal marriage) and have children? Just from basic human nature, I suspect the answer to all of them is yes :-)
    – jamesqf
    Jan 28, 2020 at 4:26
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    @Outsider: We must speak different varieties of English, then, as I have never heard "intermix" used in an exclusively sexual context.
    – jamesqf
    Jan 28, 2020 at 17:34
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    @T.E.D. It was the first page that Google returned when I typed in mixed-race Hong Kong. Of course, the usual caveats about the results returned when using Google apply. Jan 28, 2020 at 19:15
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    @Outsider, you could maybe have used "intermarry", or "have romantic relationships" or "have mixed-race offspring". Any of these would have avoided the problem that "intermix" is often used (in at least some parts of the world) to mean any of working together or living next door to one another, shopping at the same shops, or non-romantic socialising etc etc. Jan 28, 2020 at 20:31

2 Answers 2


Was there intermixing between Brits and Hong Kongers during Britain's control of the territory?


According to the South China Morning Post:

In her book Eurasians, MIT professor [Emma J. Teng] contrasts attitudes towards interracial marriage in three jurisdictions, and how mixed-race families in Hong Kong were able to grow wealthy despite facing discrimination

(my emphasis)


As a colonial entrepôt, Hong Kong was a place of meeting and acculturation. Eurasians, being the biological issue of those exchanges, have been a part of Hong Kong life since the colony’s foundation.

Hong Kong’s formative years were shaped by the great Eurasian comprador clans like the Hutongs and the Kotewalls, whose names are now immortalised by the very urban geography of Hong Kong.

(my emphasis)

It isn't hard to find examples of prominent Eurasian people born in Colonial Hong Kong. For example

  • Sir Robert Ho Tung Bosman, KBE JP
  • Nancy "Ka Shen" Kwan
  • Stanley Ho Hung-sun GBM GLM GBS GML OBE

Of course many of these are more European than British but it shows that relationships and intermarriage between Europeans/British and Chinese people did happen in the colonial era.

Eurasians and couples with differing ethnicity faced disapproval and discrimination from both Chinese and European communities, so may not have been especially numerous during colonial times.

"No dogs and Chinese allowed" sign.

The fabled sign "No dogs and Chinese allowed" is a film prop from the Bruce Lee fictional film "Fists of Fury" in 1972.

Some say the sign existed in Shanghai, not Hong Kong.

Sign at Huangpu Park. Shanghai

Shanghai's “Dogs and Chinese Not Admitted” Sign: Legend, History and Contemporary Symbol

This article examines the potency and persistence of myth and language in the context of the dispute, now over 80 years old, about the officially-sanctioned wording of regulations in the municipal parks of foreign-administered Shanghai. Specifically, it examines the potent symbol of the sign placed in Shanghai's Huangpu Park that allegedly read: “Chinese and Dogs Not Admitted.” This symbol has secured a totemic position in the historiography of the Western presence in China before 1949 and is deeply embedded in contemporary Chinese and Western perceptions and representations of that era, and of the whole question of Western imperialism in China. It is the subject both of popular discourse and official fiat in China today. Drawing on a series of revisionist writings and new archival research this article shows that the true facts of the case are both beyond dispute and irrelevant, but that the legend survives undiminished.

There was racism and discrimination in Hong Kong, for example only Europeans being allowed to own property in some areas (e.g. the peak) between 1904 and 1946. Unequal treatment in law etc.

This did not preclude intermarriage in the colony more generally.


No. At least not in the "early" going.

My father was born in Hong Kong in 1923, and he still remembers signs on public buildings that read, "Dogs and Chinese not allowed."

The British wanted to avoid every possible contact with the locals (except as "servants.")

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    Hmmm, so they kept that up till the day they "left"?
    – Outsider
    Jan 28, 2020 at 19:43
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    There were certainly mixed-race children in Hong King in the 19th century, and that led to some ridiculous (to modern eyes) problems. For example, children of Chinese descent weren't initially allowed to be buried in the Hong Kong Colonial Cemetery, because Chinese were barred from living on The Peak, and mixed race children weren't allowed to be buried in the Chinese cemetery. That was the reason given in the petition for the creation of the Chiu Yuen Cemetery. Jan 28, 2020 at 19:47
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    See, for example, the 2018 article No Mixed Blood, No Mixed Bones, the Ongoing Saga of Hong Kong's Eurasian Cemetery in Zolima City Mag. Jan 28, 2020 at 19:50
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    There is quite often a difference between public/official attitudes of "no intermixing" (whether social or sexual), and the attitudes of many individuals, who quite often have no objection to such relationships. For a perhaps extreme example, consider the sorts of men-only business groups that were common not all that long ago. Excluding women from business did not mean that their members were either celibate or gay :-)
    – jamesqf
    Jan 28, 2020 at 23:52

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