The convergence of Christianity and the Chinese Revolution in 1950s Hong Kong

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Department of Cultural Studies

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Public Seminar




10:30 a.m. --12:30 p.m.


HSH109, Lingnan University, Hong Kong


This presentation reveals an underappreciated episode of convergence between Christianity and communism in 1950s Hong Kong. Many studies have drawn attention to the intermingling of radical politics and Christianity in general (from Walter Benjamin and Ernst Bloch to Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek) and regional movements (Minjung theology in South Korea and liberation theology in Latin America) in particular. Yet, when it comes to Christianity and the Chinese Communism, common narratives emphasize the supposedly inherent incompatibilities between a foreign faith and a nationalistic, atheistic government. British Hong Kong, on the other hand, saw the inevitable collaboration between Christian churches and the colonial state because of their putatively common social origins. This paper shows, through digging into the sermons and writings by Bishop Ronald O. Hall and other prominent priests of the Anglican church in Hong Kong, that the picture was much more complex. It argues that Hall embraced the Chinese Communist revolution not because he held communist sympathies but because he found in the movement something much closer to his social and, indeed, religious visions than the policies pursued by the Hong Kong government. As a member of the colonial elite, Hall was nonetheless critical of Governor Alexander Grantham’s efforts to transform Hong Kong into a Cold War outpost. This paper suggests that the early Cold War years in Hong Kong and Asia was a period of creative intellectual exploration, by which multiple strains of thought were brought to bear in the context of a decolonizing continent that was, at the same time, being drawn into a bipolar world dominated by the United States and the Soviet Union. This study forms part of my investigation of how knowledge production in Asia challenged Cold War pieties and could inform our ongoing search for an Inter-Asian methodology.



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Recommended Citation

Tsui, B. (2018, October). The convergence of Christianity and the Chinese Revolution in 1950s Hong Kong [Video podcast]. Retrieved from