Russians in Hong Kong
|600 (2007 estimate)|
|Related ethnic groups|
Russians in Hong Kong form one of the territory's smaller groups of expatriates and a minor portion of the worldwide Russian diaspora. Many Russians from China passed through Hong Kong in the 1950s through 1970s on their way to resettlement in Australia, Brazil, and Canada.
White Russians in the pre-World War II period were looked down upon by the British; their lifestyles, employment, and poverty were seen to "undermine 'white privilege'", and other Europeans tried to avoid any interaction with them. Nevertheless, some were also hired on to Royal Hong Kong Police Force, though they were paid less than other Europeans; at one point, Russians composed 12-15% of all Europeans in the Hong Kong police.
After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the White Russians remaining in China began to look to the exits. However, the government would only permit them to leave the country if they had secured visas for overseas destinations. There were further bureaucratic complications in obtaining such visas since at that early date, most countries in which Russians aimed to resettle did not yet recognise the PRC, but instead the Republic of China on Taiwan. Similarly, Hong Kong only permitted entry to the refugees if they had those same visas, which in most cases could only be obtained from diplomatic missions in Hong Kong. As a result of these barriers, only 880 Russian refugees from China departed via Hong Kong for resettlement overseas in 1952; they also faced pressure from the PRC government to abandon their efforts to emigrate and instead return to the Soviet Union. However, by 1956, the divergence between the PRC and the Soviet Union which would eventually grow into a full-blown Sino-Soviet split had begun to grow, and the PRC's policy towards the White Russians softened: the government no longer repatriated them to the Soviet Union, and liberalised the issuance of exit permits.
A site for a refugee camp for Russian refugees had been picked out for them at Chi Ma Wan on Lantau Island, but it was never built. Instead, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and private charities including the World Council of Churches provided the funds for the refugees to be sheltered in private boarding-houses and to receive money to cover their other medical expenses. Their major destinations included Australia, Brazil, and Canada. Some who faced a long wait for resettlement found work as domestic helpers or on construction sites, in addition to receiving living allowances from the UN; young children also enrolled in schools. By 1980, a total of twenty thousand White Russians from China had passed through Hong Kong on their way to resettlement in overseas destinations.
Organisations and community
The Russian Club in Hong Kong was formally established in 1999 out of informal gatherings which began as early as 1993; it celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2009 with a grand ball, which attracted roughly 150 participants. The Russian consul-general in Hong Kong estimated in 2007 that just 600 Russian citizens lived in Hong Kong.
The history of the Russian Orthodox Church in Hong Kong goes back to 1934, when Dmitry Ivanovich Uspensky of Vyazniki, Vladimir Oblast arrived in Southern China from his previous posting in Shanghai. The Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia was officially established in 1996. Hong Kong Cemetery in Happy Valley has 105 Russian Orthodox graves; in 2012, the Royal Asiatic Society and the Hong Kong Orthodox Church jointly led a project to restore 15 of them.
In popular culture
- 楊柳 (2007-07-13), "俄羅斯駐港總領事格里蔡：摒棄舊偏見拓合作空間", Ta Kung Pao, retrieved 2010-09-08
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- Scherr 2011, p. 14
- Scherr 2011, p. 19
- Trivedi, Anjani (2013-06-13), "Famous Company for Edward Snowden: White Russians", Time, retrieved 2013-06-15
- "Русский клуб в Гонконге отметил 10-летие грандиозным балом", Rian.ru, 2009-11-09, retrieved 2010-09-08
- Frolov, Nikolai (2012-08-13), "Vyazniki-Hong Kong: a life-long mission", Russia Beyond the Headlines, retrieved 2012-09-11
- "Orthodox Church to set up S.E. Asia Metropolitanate in Hong Kong", Union of Catholic Asian News, 1996-11-22, retrieved 2012-09-11
- Lee, Amanda Wai-Man (2012-08-01), "Russian graves in Hong Kong", Russia Beyond the Headlines, retrieved 2012-09-11
- Bickley 2001, p. 1
- Bickley, Gillian (2001), Hong Kong Invaded!: A '97 Nightmare, Hong Kong University Press, ISBN 962-209-526-7
- Bray, Denis (2001), Hong Kong Metamorphosis, Hong Kong University Press, ISBN 962-209-550-X
- Horne, Gerald (2003), Race War!: White Supremacy and the Japanese Attack on the British, New York University Press, ISBN 0-8147-3640-8
- Scherr, Stephanie (October 2011), "Waiting at the Gates of Hong Kong: Russian Refugees in Hong Kong during the 1950s and 1960s", David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies Working Paper Series (116), retrieved 2013-06-13
- Vaid, K. N. (1972), The Overseas Indian Community in Hong Kong, Centre of Asian Studies occasional papers and monographs #7, University of Hong Kong, OCLC 879401