Film Database on Film Exhibition and Reception in Colonial Hong Kong: 1897 to 1925
The China Mail

The China Mail (德臣西報) holds a distinguished place in the history of Hong Kong’s English-language press. Established in 1845 by Andrew Shortrede, it was the longest-lived newspaper in Hong Kong until its closure in 1974. The paper began as a weekly publication and transitioned to a daily in 1867, reflecting the growing demand for news in the bustling port city.

Andrew Shortrede’s vision for the China Mail was to create a publication that not only informed but also influenced the burgeoning expatriate community. The paper’s role extended beyond mere reporting; it was the exclusive publisher of the government gazette for several years, further cementing its status as a key player in the dissemination of official information.

Over the years, ownership of the China Mail changed hands several times, with notable figures such as Andrew Dixson, James Kemp, Nicholas B. Denny, Charles A. Saint, and George Murray Bain steering the publication through Hong Kong’s dynamic history.

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Hong Kong Telegraph

Established on June 15, 1881, by Robert Fraser-Smith, during a time when Hong Kong was under British colonial rule, the Hong Kong Telegraph (士蔑報) embarked on its journey as an afternoon daily from its Wellington Street office.

Fraser-Smith was known for his fearless editorial stance. Under his leadership, the Hong Kong Telegraph became a platform for candid journalism, often leading to multiple charges of libel against Fraser-Smith. 

After Fraser-Smith’s death in 1895, the newspaper saw a change in ownership when J. J. Francis acquired it. The editorial baton was then passed to Chesney Duncan, who later left to cover the Boxer Rebellion for the Daily Mail. Subsequent editors included Ethelbert Forbes Skertchley, who continued the legacy of the Hong Kong Telegraph with dedication.

Hong Kong Telegraph was brought under the control of the South China Morning Post, in 1916.

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South China Morning Post

Established on November 6, 1903, by Tse Tsan-tai and Alfred Cunningham, the South China Morning Post (SCMP, 南華早報) has remained Hong Kong’s newspaper of record throughout British colonial rule and beyond.

SCMP began as a platform for news and ideas during a time when Hong Kong was a bustling entrepôt. Its founding mission was to “tell the truth for the good of humanity,” a principle that guided its early years and shaped its role as a pioneer in the city’s press landscape. It has since evolved alongside the city, chronicling its highs and lows and bringing news from mainland China to its readers. The early years of SCMP were marked by financial struggles, yet the paper persevered, providing a snapshot of Hong Kong as a vibrant port city.

Ownership of SCMP changed hands several times, with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation holding it from 1986 until it was acquired by Malaysian real estate tycoon Robert Kuok in 1993. On April 5, 2016, Alibaba Group acquired the media properties of the SCMP Group, including SCMP.

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