The Six-Day War of 1899

Hong Kong in the Age of Imperialism


Patrick H. Hase

ISBN : 978-988-8139-54-5

History Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series (皇家亞洲學會香港研究叢書)

April 2008

304 pages, 6″ x 9″, 17 b&w illus. & 6 maps

  • HK$195.00

Also available in Hardback HK$250.00

In 1899, a year after the Convention of Peking leased the New Territories to Britain, the British moved to establish control. This triggered resistance by some of the population of the New Territories. There ensued six days of fighting with heavy Chinese casualties. This truly forgotten war has been thoroughly researched for the first time and recounted in lively style by Patrick Hase, an expert on the people and history of the New Territories.

After brief discussion of British Imperialism in the 1890s and British military theory of that period on small wars, the heart of the book is a day-by-day account of the fighting and of the differences of opinion between the Governor of Hong Kong (Blake) and the Colonial Secretary (Lockhart) as to how the war should be fought. Dr Hase uses his deep knowledge of the people and the area to give a full picture of the leaders and of the rank-and-file of the village fighters. New estimates of the casualties are provided, as are the implications of the way these casualties are down-played in most British accounts.

As a small war of Imperial Expansion, fought at precisely the high point of Imperial thinking within the British Empire, The Six-Day War of 1899 is of interest, not only to historians of Hong Kong and China, but also to historians of the British Empire and the British Army, and to general readers interested in military, imperial and Hong Kong history.

Patrick H. Hase (PhD, Cambridge, FSA, Hon.FRASHK) has studied the history and traditional life of the New Territories and its people for much of the 41 years he has lived in Hong Kong. His local historical research has led to his appointment as an Honorary Advisor to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Hong Kong, to the Zhong-ying Street Historical Museum, Shataukok, and to the People’s Government of Kaiping Municipality. He is the author of numerous articles on local New Territories history.

The Six-Day War of 1899 is an important book for scholars who are interested in colonialism – and not just the Hong Kong variety. Hase explores the ‘hidden’ history of Britain’s occupation and subsequent pacification of a rural Chinese district. This is a riveting account of a colonial encounter.” —James L. Watson, Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society, Harvard University

“An 1899 newspaper headline called the war ‘The Ferment in the Hinterland’, but it went flat very quickly. Well researched and written with exemplary clarity, this carefully crafted account has restored the fizz, challenging received notions of the characters of the main actors as well as of the severity of the bloodshed.” —Hugh Baker, Emeritus Professor of Chinese, SOAS, University of London

“Thorough, judicious and meticulously researched, Patrick Hase’s book is, and will remain, the definitive account of a hitherto well-concealed act of imperial turpitude, Britain’s acquisition of Hong Kong’s New Territories.” —Nigel Collett, author of The Butcher of Amritsar