Organised by the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, the special exhibition “Hong Kong’s Maritime Miracle: The Story of our City since 1945,” explores Hong Kong’s miraculous transformation from the ashes of World War II into a global maritime hub through 25 iconic exhibits. The exhibition leverages art and technology, and features a series of five newly produced short movies directed by award-winning filmmaker Heiward Mak.
Why it matters:
Collective memories of the community are told through exhibits such as ‘Made in Hong Kong’ products, artefacts, personal memorabilia and historical photography on seafarers, Star Ferry, dockyards, and container terminals. These examples illustrate the crucial role of shipping in our daily lives in the past, present and future. Highlights will include the display of a Star Ferry turnstile that had been used as a faregate in the 20th century; the oil painting of Seawise Giant (later renamed Jahre Viking), the world’s largest ship ever built that cemented the city’s role as the centre of ship management operations; and an outdoor display of the only remaining ‘Dai Fei’ (speedboat) in existence, captured by the Hong Kong Marine Police and used for training purposes until the end of 2020.
1945年是香港戰後迅速重生之年。在日佔時期 (1941年12月至1945年8月) ，香港的城市基建在多次轟炸及同盟國空襲後幾乎被完全炸毀，人口由戰前的1,640,000減少至戰後的600,000。儘管如此，在日本於1945年8月無條件投降後，香港迅速由戰火中重生。在1945年11月23日，香港在私營貿易方面正式重啟，而船運業則在短短10個月內回復運作。香港優先恢復了食物供應、船運設施及交通網絡，因此亦是東亞區內復甦得最快的城市。
．Section 1: Regeneration (1945–48)
The year 1945 saw Hong Kong’s remarkable rise from a city in ruins to a city recovered in a matter of months. Under the Japanese Occupation (December 1941-August 1945), the city’s infrastructure was virtually destroyed after severe bombing and numerous air raids by the Allied Forces, and the population decreased from 1,640,000 pre-war to 600,000 post-war.
However, with the unconditional surrender of Japan in August 1945, Hong Kong rose from the ashes of War in record time. It was officially reopened for private trade by 23 November 1945, less than three months after the Japanese Occupation and five months before the resumption of the Civil Government on 1 May 1946. The shipping industry was back in operation in a mere ten months. With priority given to food supply, shipping facilities, and transportation networks, Hong Kong was the fastest to resume business among East Asian countries and cities.
．Section 2: Back in Business (1949–1970)
The major shipping companies in Hong Kong rebuilt their fleets and port facilities during the late 1940s and 1950s. In 1947, the largest shipyards in Hong Kong, including Taikoo Dockyard and Engineering Company and The Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Company Limited, hired 14,484 employees in total, over a quarter of the labour force employed in industrial establishments at that time. By 1950, the population of Hong Kong had swelled with the influx of over 700,000 mainland Chinese immigrants. Businessmen, entrepreneurs, intellectuals and a large volume of manpower made their homes in Hong Kong, all bringing their own skills, capital and labour with them, along with a fervent desire to rebuild their lives.
．Section 3: The High Growth Years (1960–80s)
Hong Kong’s development hit a high in the 1960s with the combination of the growing population, capital investment, thriving industry and a strong overseas demand for consumer goods. Low taxes, free trade, free movement of capital and lax labour laws turbocharged the growth of exports and imports along with shipping. Export tonnage increased from 18 to 28 million tonnes between 1960 and 1970, while Hong Kong’s GDP increased from USD1.3 to 3.8 billion. The branding of Hong Kong was also established through its presence in international trade fairs.
．Section 4: The Container Changed Everything (1972-present)
The first fully cellular container ship called at Hong Kong’s new Kwai Chung Container Terminal in 1972. With the higher efficiency of Kwai Chung Container Port and the growing output of its light manufacturing industry, Hong Kong became a leading port in Asia, and overtook Rotterdam as the world’s busiest container port in 1987. By 1990, there were seven container berths at Kwai Chung, all operated by private shipping companies. Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT) began investing in container ports in mainland China. Shenzhen and Yantian, the two ports to the west and east of Hong Kong, expanded quickly, as Hong Kong’s manufacturing moved to lower cost locations over the border. Hong Kong’s throughput peaked in 2011 at 24.4 million teu.
．Section 5: The Future
Strategically located as a gateway to and from Mainland China, Hong Kong has long been a leading international trade and logistics hub with a low and simple tax regime, the rule of law, and a free flow of goods, capital, and people. However, Hong Kong faces challenges with insufficient experienced labor and maritime specialists. Covid pandemic also poses a difficulty to arrange ship crews worldwide. These challenges put increasing pressure on the shipping industry to maintain its reliability and threaten the globalized supply chains.
Background – Hong Kong Maritime Museum:
The Hong Kong Maritime Museum opened its door to the public at Murray House in Stanley in 2005 and relocated to Central Pier No. 8 in the heart of the Central Harbour Waterfront in 2013. Today the Museum displays over 1,200 objects in 15 galleries. The HKMM also houses various event spaces for rent, a rooftop café, and a gift shop. In 2022, the Swire Marine Discovery Centre opens at the museum, providing the community with the unique opportunity to learn about Hong Kong’s maritime heritage and marine ecology through a pioneering fusion of history, art, and science.
The five short movies is directed by Hong Kong-based filmmaker Heiward Mak, starring Yatho Wong, Alma Kwok, Nancy Kwai, Sing Lam, Miu Shan Tai and Mr. Jan as the leads. Through the eyes of the fictional Hongkonger in her twenties, the movies weave stories of love and family with the maritime developments in the city and highlight our everyday connections with the maritime world.
Hong Kong’s Maritime Miracle: The Story of our City since 1945
2022.6.24 – 10.30
Special Exhibitions and Events Gallery, Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Central Pier 8, Hong Kong
Courtesy to Hong Kong Maritime Museum