Chinese Christians

Elites, Middlemen, and the Church in Hong Kong


Carl T. Smith, with a new introduction by Christopher Munn

ISBN : 978-962-209-688-2

History Echoes: Classics in Hong Kong Culture and History

May 2005

284 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 24 b&w illus.

  • HK$195.00
No longer available

Every so often a work of history appears that radically changes our understanding of people, place and period. Chinese Christian is such a work. This book asks questions about Hong Kong that have never been asked before. It shows that the leaders of Chinese society had a far greater role in shaping early Hong Kong history than earlier historians had believed. It also demonstrates, for the first time, that Chinese society in early Hong Kong had coherence and continuity.

This book is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in Hong Kong’s history. In its focus on ordinary people and their lives, it is equally enjoyable and interesting for the lay reader, and its original approach of building from raw data on individuals provides a model of broader relevance for historians.

Chinese Christians explores the lives of some 200 men and women who came into contact with Christian missionaries and who used their connections to achieve wealth and status. By bringing them together in this book, Carl Smith has made a singular contribution to Hong Kong history. He has, perhaps more than anyone else, turned the field of Hong Kong history on its head.

Carl T. Smith (1918–2008) graduated from Union Theological Seminary with a master’s degree in divinity in 1943. He came to Hong Kong as a missionary in 1960 and spent the next 23 years teaching theology, finally at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. After his retirement in 1983, he has devoted himself to his researches into Hong Kong and China Coast history.

“This classic work in Hong Kong historiography is still indispensable to for scholars. It is fascinating reading for the general public also.” —Jung-fang Tsai, University of Charleston

“‘Where are the Chinese?’ was a common reaction to earlier works on Hong Kong history that tended to focus on governors and the colonial administration. Carl Smith, by putting the Chinese of all classes, women and men, ordinary and extraordinary, back into the picture, transcends old boundaries to construct a more complex, finely-textured and exceptionally insightful historical narrative. The essays in Chinese Christians, based on years of vigorous research into a wide range of primary sources, many previously untapped by any historian, point to the infinite possibilities of the historiography of Hong Kong. General readers will find the book informative and delightful; for the historian, it will guide, inspire and liberate them in their pursuit of new frontiers.” —Elizabeth Sinn, University of Hong Kong