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Foreign colonies in China

Last modified: 2020-07-31 by ian macdonald
Keywords: china | liu kung tau | weihaiwei | port arthur | tsingtao | tsing-tao |
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Liu Kung Tau / Weihaiwei

The flags of the Commissioner of Liu Kung Tau / Weihaiwei were Union Jacks not Blue Ensigns.

It is known that the badge of Liu Kung Tau was a dragon on a yellow disc, but the details of the dragon are not known. The dragon from the 1887 flag of the Inspector General of Customs has been used as being probably similar.

The flag for the first commissioner was described as being for Liu Kung Tau, which was an island in the Bay where the Commissioner's Residence was situated. He was a Military Commissioner, also responsible for Civil Administration, but replaced by a purely Civil Commissioner in 1902, when it was decided that Weihaiwei was not a suitable site for a naval base.

On 1st December 1902 he wrote to the Colonial Office. Government House, Port Edward, Weihaiwei.

The design of the flag hitherto used by the Commissioner of this Dependency is a dragon on the Union Jack and is in my opinion quite unsuitable. I have therefore to request that the Crown Agents may be instructed to have made for the use of the Commissioner two new flags, the device of the Mandarin Duck being substituted for the Dragon, which is as you are aware the national emblem of China and not appropriate in the case of a British Dependency.
J.H.Stewart Lockhart.

The Mandarin Duck design (they are both ducks), which was part of the Seal, was approved by King Edward VII at some time in 1903, (MO 46124/03).

In 1902 the Junkmen of Weihaiwei applied to have the Chinese pennants which they flew, stamped "Issued by British Authorities" to correspond to the practice of the Russians in Port Arthur, and the Germans in Kiao Chao. The Commissioner could see no reason why it should not be done.

Source: [National Archives (PRO) ADM 116/1063B and MT 9/739]
David Prothero, 18 April 2005

Commissioner of Liu Kung Tau
1899 to 1903

[Copmmisioner flag of Liu Kung Tau]
by Martin Grieve

The flag was probably used from 1899-1902.

1898. Leased to Britain by China for 25 years. Consisted of the island of LiuKung, a strip ten miles broad along the whole coastline of WeiHaiWei Bay, and a sphere of influence covering 1500 square miles in Shantung province. The barracks and fortifications were at the time occupied by Japan who handed them over to Britain, when the China paid an indemnity with money given by Britain. Administered by Senior Naval Officer of Royal Navy.

1899. Administration transferred to a military and civil commissioner appointed by the War Office. Garrison consisted of 200 British troops and a specially constituted Chinese Regiment with British officers.

1901. Decision that the base should not be fortified and administration transferred to Colonial Office.

1902. Civil Commissioner appointed.

1903. Chinese Regiment disbanded.

1905. Russia left Port Arthur and under the terms of the lease WeiHaiWei should have reverted to China. At the request of Japan, and because Germany was occupying KiaoChow, Britain re-negotiated the lease.

1930. Administration returned to China but Britain continued to use facilities on loan for ten years.

It is unlikely that the badge ever appeared on a Blue Ensign. Any shipping needed during the military administration would have been supplied by the Royal Navy.

It seems reasonable to assume that the WeiHaiWei badge replaced the LiuKungTau badge when the Civil Commissioner was appointed. The amendment inserting the Liu Kung Tau badge into the Admiralty Flag Book was dated November 1899 and the WeiHaiWei amendment, February 1904. These are amendment dates not approval/adoption dates.
David Prothero, 2 January 2000

Putative Blue Ensign
ensign of Liu Kung Tau administrator]
by Jaume Ollé

Tsing-Tao / Kiautschou

[German colonial flag]
by Janko Ehrlich Zdvorak

In 1900's it was a former German Territory. In 1918 it was transferred to Japan and in 1945 transferred to China.
Jaume Ollé, 14 November 1999

My Allers Illustrerede Konversations-Leksikon says: Leased in 1898 to Germany for 99 years. Kiautschou is the territory, Tsingtau is the main town.
Ole Anderson, 20 November 1999

Tsingto (German: Tsingtau) was the capital city and the port of the former German territory of Kiautschou (Jiaozhou) in China.

There wast neither any coat of arms, nor a flag for this territory. The only flag used in the territory was the service flag of the governor of Kiautschou. It was horizontally black-white-red with the Imperial eagle without crown in the middle of the white stripe. This flag wasn't specific to Kiautschou as it was also the service flag of the governor of East-Africa. Of course, in all German colonies were used military colours as well as the Imperial war flag.

Source: - Schurdel, Harry D., Flaggen und Wappen Deutschland, Augsburg, Battenberg, 1995, pp.229-230.
Pascal Vagnat, 19 November 1999

The city that was spelled Tsing-Tao in the old Wade-Giles system is now Qingdao.

Port Arthur

In 1900's it was a former Russian Territory. In 1905 it was transferred to Japan and in 1945 transferred to China.
Jaume Ollé, 14 November 1999

My 'Allers Illustrerede Konversations-Leksikon' says: Chinese until 1894, when Japan took over. Retroceded in 1895. In 1898 leased to Russia for 25 years. In 1905 ceded to Japan as a result of the Russo-Japanese War.
Ole Anderson, 20 November 1999

Tientsin / Tianjin

Eight European powers plus Japan had concessions in Tienstin between 1861 and 1947. Here is a good brief history:

On the same site can be found the flag of the Tientsin Volunteers, a part- time British volunteer unit. Although it was formed in 1898, the flag was presented by the British Community of Tientsin in 1940, only 18 months before the Japanese invasion and occupation. The corps never reached battalion size (1000 men or 10 companies), being at peak strength about three companies. I believe this disqualified it from receiving regulation British Army style Colours.

I don't know of other foreign flags in Tientsin during the Treaty Port era, but there must have been some (other than the national flags of those foreign powers).
T.F. Mills, 12 September 2005