April 9, 1997 Hong Kong Exhibit, "From Fishing Village to Financial Center", Opens with May 30 Symposium

Press Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191
Public Contact: Judy Lu Kestell (202) 707-2385

The Asian Division of the Library of Congress will open a unique exhibition on Hong Kong, titled "From Fishing Village to Financial Center," with a symposium May 30.

"The exhibition highlights the Library's rich Asian collection, and provides the public with an informed chronicle of a city's metamorphosis that is unique in the history of the world," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

The exhibition explores, from an American perspective, Hong Kong's history throughout 156 years of British sovereignty. Hong Kong will cease to be a British colony July 1.

Hong Kong Commissioner to the United States Kenneth Pang thanked the Library for hosting a Hong Kong exhibition and symposium. "I welcome the special interest the Library of Congress is taking in Hong Kong. This exhibition and symposium will show the American public the fantastic transformation that Hong Kong has made over the last century and a half and its promising future."

The exhibition consists of 43 documents, books, maps, photographs and manuscripts depicting the history, economy, culture, society and art of Hong Kong. The selections highlight the city's development into an international center of finance. Among the items are the first treaty between the United States and China. Dating to 1844, the Treaty of Wanghia is written in Chinese calligraphy on white silk.

There are eight sections in the exhibition: The Beginning -- Merchants, Men of War and Missionaries (1840- 1850); Hong Kong Comes of Age; The Hong Kong Chinese Community; The Revolution and War in Asia, 1900-1945; World War II -- Under the Japanese; The Birth of Modern Hong Kong (1950-1960); Modern Hong Kong Culture; and Hong Kong and China -- One Country, Two Systems.

The exhibition opening will be marked with a symposium consisting of two panels. The first will be on Hong Kong's history, economy and judicial system. Panelist Burton Levin, a former American diplomat stationed in Hong Kong, will retrace history from the U.S. perspective. Elizabeth Sinn, a history professor at the University of Hong Kong, will explore history from the early 19th century to World War II. Jerome Cohen, a senior partner in the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison will consider the judicial system.

The second panel will be about the art, culture, society and communities of Hong Kong. James Watt, director of the Asian Art Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will discuss art and popular culture. Helen Siu, an anthropology professor at Yale University, will examine the colony's society, including the status of women. Stanley Karnow, a well-known American journalist long stationed in Hong Kong, will describe the city's various communities.

The symposium will be held from 2 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Mumford Room of the Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. Symposium attendees will be invited to explore the exhibition, which will be on view through November in the foyer of the Madison Building. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Both the exhibition and the symposium are made possible by a grant from the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, which builds business, investment and cultural ties between Hong Kong and the United States.


PR 97-063
ISSN 0731-3527