The 1967 riots in Hong Kong : The diplomatic and domestic fronts of the colonial governor

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-139
Journal / PublicationChina Quarterly
Issue number193
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


This article examines the dynamics behind the Hong Kong colonial government's policy during the 1967 riots, a turning point in the colony's development. Starting as an industrial dispute, it soon erupted into a major crisis that prompted the British to consider evacuation from the territory. While the Governor, David Trench, was preoccupied with the colossal task of maintaining order on the domestic front, his success was heavily dependent on his progress on the "diplomatic front." His perception of British interests did not always resonate with the views of the British diplomats in China. This article argues that the prevalence of Trench's proposed policy of firm suppression of local communists over the accommodating approach, suggested by the British diplomats in Beijing, was a result of his success in persuading the officials in London of the greater utility of his proposal in preserving British interests. The limited options available to Britain and Trench's shrewdness in exploiting the sovereign's uncertainty over the future of China contributed to the Governor's success in swaying the opinions of officials in London. © 2008 The China Quarterly.