Event Detail

17
Nov
2009

The Peking Legations

Michael Moser
Tuesday, 17 Nov 2009
Ladies Recreation Club
Only a stone's throw away from the Imperial Palace, the Legation Quarter of Peking stood for more than half a century as 'a city apart'. It housed several thousand foreigners who lived in a miniature Europe in the heart of the Chinese capital.

We are delighted to welcome to the Royal Geographical Society in Hong Kong, Dr Michael Moser to present his longawaited lecture on the history of the Peking Legation Quarter. The Legation Quarter of Peking stood for more than 50 years as a foreign city within Beijing with its own government. The lecture is to be accompanied by a slide show of fine period pictures from his new book "Foreigners Within the Gates: The Legations at Peking ".

Only a stone's throw away from the Imperial Palace, the Legation Quarter of Peking stood for more than half a century as 'a city apart'. Surrounded by thick walls, with entry to Chinese forbidden, the Quarter housed several thousand foreigners who lived in a miniature Europe in the heart of the Chinese capital. The Quarter boasted wellbuilt embassies and fancy clubs which mimicked the latest European styles, maintained its own local government and post office, and was serviced by a surprisingly large collection of banks and commercial establishments.

A painful symbol of China's humiliation at the hands of western 'barbarians', the Legation Quarter was repossessed by the Chinese Government after 1949 and all foreigners were evicted. Little remains of the old Quarter today.

The lecture reconstructs the story of the Peking Legation Quarter a 'little Europe' placed in the heart of the Imperial capital tracing the Quarter's origins in 19th century’s 'unequal' treaties, through the perilous Boxer Rebellion during the summer of 1900, the construction of the Quarter after the Boxer Settlement, the Japanese occupation of the 1930s, and finally the disappearance of the Quarter in 1949.

Dr Moser read law at Harvard and was awarded his Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. He is a lawyer and Chairman of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. He has resided and worked in Beijing and Hong Kong since 1980. He was previously China head of an international legal firm. His daughter, Yeone WeiChih Moser, the coauthor of his book on the quarter is a banker in Hong Kong. They resided in Peking's old Legation Quarter during the 1980s. Long involved in the study of the region, Dr Moser has been a director of the China Research & Exploration Society for some 10 years.

Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$100 for Members and HK$150 for guests.

See other events in 2009