A historical garden and a student centre : two memorial landscapes to reposition Hong Kong, 1959–1968

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1033-1054
Journal / PublicationInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number6
Online published15 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


Space is not only a concrete object but also a symbol. The symbolic meaning of space is particularly clear in a memorial landscape—a special spatial arrangement to evoke or enforce a collective memory. In this article, we will examine two memorial landscapes of Cold War Hong Kong: the Sung Wong Toi Garden in Kowloon Bay and the Benjamin Franklin Centre of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the New Territories. Opened in 1958 and 1969, respectively, these two memorial landscapes were part of the British government’s attempt to re-position Hong Kong in the bipolar global system. By highlighting Hong Kong’s roots in Chinese history (as shown in the Sung Wong Toi Garden), the British government took the city out of “Red China” (which rejected Chinese tradition) and inserted it into “Cultural China” (which supported Chinese tradition). By highlighting Hong Kong’s commitment to higher education (as shown in the Benjamin Franklin Centre), the British government included the city into the “Free World” of market economy and industrial modernization. Together, these two memorial landscapes signified a fundamental shift in Hong Kong’s position in the world. Instead of being an entrepot serving British corporations in the China trade, Hong Kong became a strategic node in the global competition between communism and capitalism, authoritarianism and democracy, the planned economy and the market economy. In these two memorial landscapes, we see how space can be configurated to win hearts and minds. © 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Research Area(s)

  • Benjamin Franklin Centre, Berlin of the East, Cold War, memorial landscape, Sung Wong Toi Garden