Hong Kong Conference
Hong Kong Conference consists of eight churches, with an attendance of around 750 people. The conference was officially organized in 1962, and became a self-governing national conference in 2001 as one of the charter member conferences of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ International.
Hong Kong has been aggressive in reaching beyond itself.
- They spearheaded, and continue overseeing, mission work in Thailand.
- They partnered with the United States in starting our work in Macau, and provide the primary oversight of the churches there.
- They have played a role in starting Chinese United Brethren churches in Canada and the United States.
- They support a missionary couple working in Poland.
Hong Kong consists of a peninsula and several islands on the south coast of China. Hong Kong was governed by Great Britain until July 1997, when Britain gave control of the territory to China. Now, Hong Kong is a “special administrative region” in China (as is Macau), enjoying many freedoms and privileges not found elsewhere in China.
The conference is led by Superintendent Yiu, who also pastors one of the churches.
Covering just 426 square miles, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places on earth.
About 90% of the people practice a mix of local religions, especially Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.The Christian community consists of about 600,000 people (8% of the population), divided evenly between Catholics and Protestants.
Rev. Kin Keung Yiu is the superintendent of Hong Kong Conference.
The Story of Hong Kong Conference
Beginning in 1898, the United Brethren denomination operated a school for Chinese people in Oregon. The school closed in 1931, but it served as a bridge to China.
In 1932, Dr. Y. T. Chiu started a United Brethren mission school in Canton, China. When the Japanese occupied southern China in the late 1930s, the staff evacuated to the British colony of Hong Kong. By the end of World War II, they had begun a kindergarten, and were engaged in refugee work and the publishing of gospel tracts and booklets.
After World War II, Y. T. Chiu and other UB workers were able to return to Canton. However, a few chose to remain in Hong Kong.
After the communist takeover of China in 1949, Y. T. Chiu and all of our other workers were forced to flee China. The work moved permanently to Hong Kong in 1950. A publishing house and medical clinic were founded that year, in addition to the church work.
The conference, officially organized in 1962, now consists of eight churches and about 750 members. The visionary people of Hong Kong, led by Superintendent Peter Lee, spearheaded the United Brethren expansion into Macau, Thailand, and Myanmar. No United Brethren missionaries have ever served in Hong Kong; it has always operated fully under the leadership of nationals.
In 1996, Hong Kong began supporting Donna Chung (now Donna Delik) as a missionary with Operation Mobilization. She is the first non-North American to become an endorsed Global Ministries staff member. She and her husband, Arek, are planting a church in Kutno, Poland.
The conference also operates, under contract with the city, large youth centers in several housing estates, which can be home to tens of thousands of people. These are a primary means of outreach and ministry to families.
The History of Hong Kong
Hong Kong consists of three areas: Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories. The main city is crammed into Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The New Territories covers 368 of the 426 square miles of Hong Kong. Although 3.5 million people live in the New Territories (half of Hong Kong’s total), much of the area is somewhat rural and hilly.
Hong Kong Island was ceded to Great Britain in 1841 after the First Opium War, fought between Great Britain and China because of China’s refusal to import opium. In 1842, Britain founded Victoria City on the island. The Kowloon Peninsula was ceded to Britain in 1860 after Britain won the Second Opium War.
In 1898, Britain was granted a 99-year lease on the New Territories. When the lease ran out in 1997, Britain was obligated to turn over only the New Territories. But rather than divide the city, Britain also turned over Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, which it owned (though China didn’t particularly recognize British ownership, and insisted on receiving the entire territory). The city’s shipping ports, reservoirs, and other vital installations were all located in the New Territories.
Japan invaded Hong Kong on December 8, 1941 (actually, just eight hours after Pearl Harbor, though the international dateline put the two events on different days), and the 14,000 British and Canadian defenders surrendered on Christmas Day. During the rest of the war, the Japanese terrorized the populace, killing and raping thousands of people. Meanwhile, a small resistance movement fought in the New Territories.
Great Britain regained control in 1945, and the Japanese governor of Hong Kong was executed as a war criminal.
In 1949, Mao Tse Tung’s communist forces took control of China. Many Chinese people fled to Hong Kong, and corporations based in Chinese cities relocated to Hong Kong. The city became a fast-growing industrial center with comparatively high living standards.
With the expiration of the 99-year lease approaching, Britain and China began negotiating over the city’s future. In 1984, Britain signed a declaration agreeing to transfer sovereignty to China in 1997, with the understanding that for at least 50 years, Hong Kong would be governed as a Special Administration Region, keeping its laws and most of its autonomy.
China has followed through in permitting political, economic, and social freedoms which are different from what you find elsewhere in China. The two areas where China retains total control are defense and foreign affairs.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading financial centers. It’s economy is characterized by low taxes, free trade, and minimal government intervention. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the sixth largest in the world. Hong Kong must import most of its food and raw materials. The service sector now dominates the economy.
Hong Kong has more skyscrapers (nearly 8000) than any other city. The public transport system is highly developed, consisting of subways, trains, ferries, and buses (primarily the trademark British double-decker buses). Hong Kong International Airport, opened in 1998, is one of the world’s best and busiest airports.
The Chief Executive of Hong Kong is the head of government (the replacement for the British Governor). The Chief Executive must be a Chinese citizen who has lived continuously in Hong Kong for at least 20 years. This person is elected by a group of 800 local leaders, and then appointed to a five-year term by the central Chinese government. There is also a 60-member legislature and a judicial branch.