PHOTOGRAPHY – The 1967 Hong Kong Riots

The leftist riots began in May, 1967 and were pro-communist labour disputes staged in sympathy with the mainland Cultural Revolution and against British rule. The following photos are from LIFE Magazine…

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Throughout the year, there were violent demonstrations, massive strikes, murders and even terrorist attacks on Hong Kong soil…

By the time the unrest had subsided, 51 people – including 5 police officers – had been killed. 5000 had been arrested, 15 were killed in bombings and another 350 were injured.

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Interestingly, tycoon Li Ka-shing amassed his fortune by buying properties at rock-bottom prices at the height of the riots…

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So impressed was Her Majesty with the local constabulary, that she granted the police force the title of ‘Royal’…

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Since the early 1990s, communist party supporters – including some riot participants – have found respectability in the pro-Beijing DAB party (The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong)

In 2001, Yeung Kwong, a pro-Communist party activist of the 1960s, was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal under Tung Chee-hwa. The event was a symbolic gesture that raised controversy as to whether the post-1997 Hong Kong government of the time was approving of the riot.

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The HK Board of Enquiry concluded that the 1966 and 1967 riots were “entirely unconnected“. Liam Mullone begs to differ and penned a piece for Tatler which attempted to right the historical error. It can be found, in full, on his website: Page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5 and page 6.

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It became known much later that, during the riots, the commander of PLA’s Guangzhou Military Region Huang Yongsheng secretly suggested invading and occupying Hong Kong, but his plan was vetoed by Zhou Enlai.

Below is a full issue of LIFE Magazine from 2nd June 1967…

Click for full issue

Click for full issue

More images from HK’s most tumultuous year…


“Our nation’s millions of Red Guards resolutely support the patriotic compatriots of Hong Kong and Kowloon in their anti-English struggle against violent repression!”

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via SCMP

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via SCMP

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via SCMP

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via Apple Daily

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via Sing Tao

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via Roger Wollstadt

Key dates from 1967…

  • May 6th – 21 arrested when sacked workers attempt to prevent goods leaving the HK Artificial Flower Works factory. Unions demand protesters are released.
  • May 16th – Leftist camp sets up an ‘All Circles Anti-Persecution Struggle Committee’, leading workers and students to march on Government House
  • May 22nd – Bloody clashes between leftists and police outside Government House – 167 are arrested.
  • June 24th – Lefists call a general strike. It is extended 5 days later to hawkers and food stall operators.
  • Mid-July onwards – Bomb attacks commence across the city.
  • August 9th – Editors of pro-Beijing newspapers are arrested – the Hong Kong Evening News, New Afternoon News and Tin Fung Daily are accused of printing ‘seditious’ articles.
  • August 22nd – Red Guards fire bomb the British embassy in Beijing
  • August 24th – Popular Commercial Radio host, Lam Bun, is covered in petrol and set alight. He died from his injuries.
  • End of December – Calm is restored.

Watch the entire John Woo period movie ‘Bullet in the Head‘ in full, on YouTube (Chinese).

Blog posts charting Hong Kong’s colourful past…

Pictorial histories of local landmarks and events…