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Dr. George Mak: Hong Kong as the World Centre for Chinese Protestant Bible Publishing and Distribution, 1951-1965

26 Oct 2023
Staff Achievement

Drawing on unpublished and underutilized archival materials from Hong Kong and overseas, this project aims to study how Hong Kong evolved from a city occupying a relatively peripheral position in the enterprise of Chinese Protestant Bible publishing and distribution in 1912-1949, into the world centre for such enterprise between 1951 and 1965. The project will focus on the work of the Hong Kong Bible House (HKBH) and its overseas sponsoring Bible societies. Its findings will enhance our understanding of Hong Kong’s historical role as a space facilitating the international movement of people, capital, and ideas from a religious perspective in general, and Hong Kong’s contributions in the modern history of Chinese Protestant Christianity in particular.

This project will consist of three parts. The first part will study the background of Hong Kong’s evolution into the world centre for Chinese Protestant Bible publishing and distribution. It will explore the favourable conditions for such evolution. The second part will study the development of the HKBH as a Chinese Protestant Bible publisher and distributor during the 1950s within the context of the Cold War geopolitical climate. It will particularly examine how the HKBH, capitalizing on its sponsoring Bible societies’ distribution networks in their home countries and overseas, developed a transnational Bible distribution network that helped support the religious life of Chinese Protestant communities outside Mainland China by ensuring a steady and reliable supply of affordable Bibles to cater for those communities’ pastoral and evangelistic needs. The third part will focus on the HKBH’s history in its final years as the sole agency jointly supported by the overseas Bible societies to work among Chinesespeaking people, examining why, despite the independence of its branch in Taiwan, the HKBH’s significance to transnational Chinese Protestant Bible publishing and distribution was unaffected.