The Kowloon Walled City was a 6-acre enclave in Hong Kong that was accepted by the British authorities during the time of British rule over Hong Kong as being under de jure Chinese sovereignty. One of the most densely populated areas on Earth, it housed 35000 people. It lasted until 1993-94 when it was demolished by the colonial authorities after it was transferred to British sovereignty by agreement with the mainland Chinese government.

It's frequently described as "ungoverned", "anarchic", and so on. My question is this: did the mainland Chinese government (or possibly the government based in Taiwan) operate any kind of administrative structure in the KWC at any time between 1898 and its demolition?

For example, did they play a judicial role, let's say if a resident fell behind in paying their water or electricity bills? Did they maintain any kind of communication links with the mainland that required a presence at both ends and the maintenance of equipment or facilities or roads? Did they have official representation on the ground? Did they run polling stations, a police service, taxation, a postal service, offices that issued documents, even just a room with an official and a telephone in it?

Photo from Wikipedia

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    Atlas Obscura suggests the last Chinese administrator left in the aftermath of the 1899 British invasion. If you're specifically interested in services operated from within the city, rather than services offered to residents from elsewhere.
    – Stuart F
    Aug 28, 2023 at 10:09
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    It says Chinese government officials travelled there in 1948 and also that the provincial Canton (Guangdong) government supplied food and medical aid, although it then quotes a British colonial governor as saying that China didn't operate any day-to-day administration.
    – tell
    Aug 28, 2023 at 10:18
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    Interestingly the yamen building constructed there in 1847 was preserved and still exists. I wonder who occupied or controlled that.
    – tell
    Aug 28, 2023 at 10:23
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    Given the time frame here (and that the KWC doesn't exists as such today), this would be better suited on history SE. politics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5836/… Sep 4, 2023 at 4:11
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    Besides Beijing and Taipei, there has also been Chinese governments in Nanjing or Chongqing during the XXth century, as well as several short-period capitals chosen by either the CPC or the KMT.
    – Evargalo
    Sep 6, 2023 at 12:27

1 Answer 1


The answer to the headline question appears to be simple: no.

The British were cautious and indirect about asserting their authority inside the city, but British control of the surrounding area ensured that the Chinese authorities had no way of re-establishing a presence once they were evicted. For several decades after the British evicted the Chinese authorities, the population inside the city was quite small, but by the 1920s significant numbers of squatters did start to move in. The KMT government then began to vigorously petition for authority in the 1930s and 1940s, and at times the post-war Communist did as well, but to no avail.

At some point I may try to come back and answer the sub-questions about how daily life in the city was managed, but what is clear is that Beijing (and certainly Taipei!) had nothing to do with it.


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