HISTORY – Newly Restored Old Hong Kong Newsreels: Part 1, Refugees 8


The news and film archive British Pathé have uploaded a number of short, revealing old newsreels related to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Newsreel Clips

In this first video from 1962, refugees fleeing the famine in the mainland are turned back from British Hong Kong. Sympathetic locals line the streets throwing food parcels into departing trucks destined for the border. (Click here for photos from the same year).

Others simply mail food packages to relatives in China. Hong Kong based historian Frank Dikötter estimated that, at minimum, 45 million people died from starvation, overwork and state violence during the Great Leap Forward…

Another film from three years earlier discusses the refugee crisis. It includes some fantastic footage from the streets, resettlement areas and shanty towns. For much of the 1950s, as many as 100,000 people fled to Hong Kong each month…

A rare colour report details an art installation set up in the heart of London to raise awareness of the refugee crisis.

This earlier propaganda clip from 1949 charts the effect of the mainland turmoil on the ‘last remaining outpost in China’. At the time, it was felt the city was vulnerable once more to invasion, though the newsreel reassures viewers that “Hong Kong is ready” and “there’ll be no repeat of the 1941 surrender this time!”…

An even earlier piece from wartime, 1939, depicts refugees fleeing China for the safety of Hong Kong…

The newsreels were shown at cinemas until the 70s, when Pathé was no longer able to compete with television. One of their later clips from the mid-60s shows refugees being uprooted from villages and rehoused in new public developments…

Finally, this silent, longer colour b-roll compilation from the late 60s shows the construction of new homes…

Blog posts charting Hong Kong’s colourful past…

Pictorial histories of local landmarks and events…


  • Wang Feng

    The Cultural Revolution didn’t start until 1966.

  • Wang Feng

    The Cultural Revolution didn’t start until 1966.

    • Tom

      Thank you, corrected.

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  • matsy

    Fantastic stuff, thanks for putting it up. I was entranced! And much more curious about aspects of British HK history now. It’s so hard to get past existing and new narratives. Cheers.