World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Weihaiwei under British rule

Leased territory of Great Britain



Location of the Weihaiwei leased territory in 1921 (in blue)
Capital Port Edward
Political structure Leased territory
Historical era New Imperialism
 •  Convention for the Lease of Weihaiwei 1 July 1898
 •  Convention for the Rendition of Weihaiwei 30 September 1930
Currency Chinese yuan
Hong Kong dollar

Weihaiwei, in the north-east of China, was a leased territory of the United Kingdom from 1898 until 1930. The capital was Port Edward. The leased territory covered 288 square miles (750 km2)[1] and included the walled city of Port Edward, bay of Wei-hai-wei, Liu-kung Tao Island and a mainland area of 72 miles (116 km) of coastline running to a depth of 10 miles (16 km) inland. Together with Lüshunkou (Port Arthur) it controlled the entrance to the Gulf of Zhili and thus the seaward approaches to Beijing[2]


  • Background to the British Lease 1
  • British Rule in Weihaiwei 2
  • Army and Police 3
  • High Court 4
  • Return of Weihaiwei 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • External links 8
  • Further reading 9

Background to the British Lease

Waterfront, Seymour Street in Weihaiwei, circa 1905-1910

The port of Weihaiwei was the base for the Beiyang Fleet (Northern Seas Fleet) during the Qing Dynasty. In 1895, the Japanese captured it in the Battle of Weihaiwei, the last major battle of the First Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese withdrew in 1898. After the Russian Empire leased Port Arthur from China for 25 years in March 1898, the United Kingdom pressured the Chinese government into leasing Weihaiwei, with the terms of the treaty stating that it would remain in force for as long as the Russians were allowed to occupy Port Arthur. The port was primarily used as a summer anchorage for the Royal Navy’s China Station and it was also used as a health resort. It served as a port of call for ships of the Royal Navy in the Far East (well behind Hong Kong in the south). Certain aspects of the administration not directly pertaining to military matters were left under Chinese control, and the port itself remained a free port until 1923.

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War, the commander of China Station was ordered to withdraw his ships from Weihaiwei to avoid the possibility that Britain would be drawn into the war. However, fearing that Weihaiwei would be used as a safe haven by the Imperial Russian Navy, the Japanese government pressured the British to return their fleet. The port was of importance as a telegraph and radio transmission station for war correspondents covering the conflict, and was also a source of contraband shipping by blockade runners bringing supplies into Port Arthur.[2]

In 1905, after Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan took over Port Arthur. The British lease was extended to last for as long as the Japanese occupied Port Arthur.

British Rule in Weihaiwei

Sir James Haldane Stewart Lockhart, Commissioner of Weihaiwei, 1902-1921
Commissioner staff and headmen of the territory in 1908

At the beginning of the lease, the territory was administered by a Senior Naval Officer of the Royal Navy, Sir Edward Hobart Seymour. In 1899, administration was transferred to a military and civil commissioner, firstly Arthur Robert Ford Dorward (1899–1901), then John Dodson Daintree (1901–1902), appointed by the War Office in London. The territorial garrison consisted of 200 British troops and a specially constituted Weihaiwei Regiment, officially the 1st Chinese Regiment, with British officers. In 1901, it was decided that this base should not be fortified and administration was transferred to the Colonial Office.

A Civil Commissioner was appointed in February 1902 to administer the territory.[3] The post was held by Sir James Haldane Stewart Lockhart until 1921. After Lockhart, Arthur Powlett Blunt (1921–1923) and Walter Russell Brown (1923–1927) were appointed Commissioners in Weihaiwei. The last Commissioner was the outstanding sinologist Reginald Fleming Johnston (previously tutor to the last Chinese emperor) who served from 1927 to 1930.

In 1909, the Hong Kong governor Sir Frederick Lugard, proposed that Britain return Weihaiwei to Chinese rule in return for perpetual rule of the New Territories of Hong Kong which had also been leased in 1898. This proposal was never adopted.[4]

Weihaiwei was not developed in the way that Hong Kong and other British colonies in the region were. This was because Shandong Province, of which Weihaiwei was part, was inside Germany's (and after World War I Japan's) sphere of influence. It was normal practice for British colonies to be administered under the provisions of the British Settlements Act 1887. However, Weihaiwei was actually administered under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act 1890 which was the law which granted extraterritorial powers over British subjects in China and other countries where Britain had extraterritorial rights. The reason for this was that as a leased territory, subject to rendition at any time, it was not considered appropriate to treat Weihaiwei as a full colony.

No special postage stamps were ever issued for Weihaiwei. Just as in the treaty ports, Hong Kong stamps were used. From 1917, these were overprinted with the word “CHINA”. Revenue stamps of Weihaiwei were issued from 1921. There were never any special coins or banknotes issued for circulation in Weihaiwei. The various currencies in circulation in China at the time were used; the Hong Kong dollar was also used as well.

The nickname British sailors gave to this port was "Way High"; it was also referred to as Port Edward in English.

During British rule, residences, hospital, churches, tea houses, sports ground, post office, and naval cemetery were constructed.[5]

Army and Police

The Weihaiwei Regiment was formed in 1898 with Lt. Colonel Hamilton Bower as its first commanding officer and served in the Boxer Rebellion. The regiment was ordered to be totally disbanded in 1906[6] by Army Order No.127 of 1906[7]

Some of the soldiers were retained as a permanent police force with three British Colour Sergeants commissioned as police inspectors. In 1910 the police force comprised three European Inspectors and 55 Chinese Constables.[8] Previously the force had comprised one Chinese sergeant and seven constables under a District Officer.

During World War I the British recruited the Chinese Labour Corps in Weihaiwei to assist the war effort.

In the seamen's strike of 1922 in Hong Kong, the colonial government sent two European police officers to Wei Hai Wei in September of that year to recruit the first of about 50 Wei Hai Wei men as Royal Hong Kong Police constables. After completing six months' training in Wei Hai Wei, the recruits were posted to Hong Kong to maintain law and order in March 1923. The Wei Hai Wei policemen were known as the D Contingent in the HKP, and their service numbers were pre-fixed with letter "D" to differentiate them from the European "A", Indian "B" and Cantonese "C".[9]

At the end of 1927, the Chinese police were replaced by Indians.[10]

High Court

In 1903, the British established a High Court of Weihaiwei. The judges of the court were chosen from individuals serving as a judge or Crown Advocate of the British Supreme Court for China in Shanghai. The three judges of the court from 1903 to 1930 were:

The Commissioner could also exercise judicial powers if the judges of the court were not available.

Appeals from the High Court for Weihaiwei could be made to the Hong Kong Supreme Court. It appears that no appeal was ever heard in Hong Kong.[11]

Initially, the Crown Advocate for China, Hiram Parkes Wilkinson served as the Crown Advocate for Weihaiwei. When Wilkinson was appointed judge in 1916, Allan Mossop took over as Crown Advocate for Weihaiwei. Mossop later became Crown Advocate for China in 1926.

Return of Weihaiwei

Weihaiwei was returned to Chinese rule on 1 October 1930. However, the Chinese government leased the island of Liu-kung Tao (Liugong Island) to the Royal Navy for ten years,[12] coming to an end on 11 November 1940 following a Japanese military landing on 1 October 1940.[13]

Weihaiwei became a special administrative region after it was returned to the Republic of China.[4]

See also


  1. ^ pp.462-463 Hutchings, Graham Modern China: A Guide to a Century of Change Harvard University Press, 1 Sep 2003
  2. ^ a b , p. 417-418.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27403. p. 709. 4 February 1902.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^ p. 56 Airlie, Shiona Scottish Mandarin: The Life and Times of Sir Reginald Johnston Hong Kong University Press, 1 Oct 2012
  7. ^
  8. ^ p.83 Johnson
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ See Tan, Carol G.S. (2008) British Rule in China: Law and Justice in Weihaiwei 1898–1930. London: Wildy, Simmonds & Hill for a comprehensive history of British justice in the Weihaiwei leased territory.
  12. ^ pp. 32-33 Schwankert, Steven R. Poseidon: China’s Secret Salvage of Britain’s Lost Submarine Hong Kong University Press, 1 Oct 2013
  13. ^

External links


Further reading

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.