Last modified: 2009-08-15 by phil nelson
Keywords: china | liu kung tau | weihaiwei | port arthur | tsingtao | tsing-tao |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
The flags of the Commissioner of Liu Kung Tau / Weihaiwei were Union Jacks not Blue Ensigns.
It is known that the badge of Liu Kung Tau was a dragon on a yellow disc, but the details of the dragon are not known. The dragon from the 1887 flag of the Inspector General of Customs has been used as being probably similar.
The flag for the first commissioner was described as being for Liu Kung Tau, which was an island in the Bay where the Commissioner's Residence was situated. He was a Military Commissioner, also responsible for Civil Administration, but replaced by a purely Civil Commissioner in 1902, when it was decided that Weihaiwei was not a suitable site for a naval base.
On 1st December 1902 he wrote to the Colonial Office. Government House, Port Edward, Weihaiwei.
The design of the flag hitherto used by the Commissioner of this Dependency is a dragon on the Union Jack and is in my opinion quite unsuitable. I have therefore to request that the Crown Agents may be instructed to have made for the use of the Commissioner two new flags, the device of the Mandarin Duck being substituted for the Dragon, which is as you are aware the national emblem of China and not appropriate in the case of a British Dependency.
The Mandarin Duck design (they are both ducks), which was part of the Seal, was approved by King Edward VII at some time in 1903, (MO 46124/03).
In 1902 the Junkmen of Weihaiwei applied to have the Chinese pennants which they flew, stamped "Issued by British Authorities" to correspond to the practice of the Russians in Port Arthur, and the Germans in Kiao Chao. The Commissioner could see no reason why it should not be done.
Source: [National Archives (PRO) ADM 116/1063B and MT 9/739]
David Prothero, 18 April 2005
by Martin Grieve
The flag was probably used from 1899-1902.
1898. Leased to Britain by China for 25 years. Consisted of the island of LiuKung, a strip ten miles broad along the whole coastline of WeiHaiWei Bay, and a sphere of influence covering 1500 square miles in Shantung province. The barracks and fortifications were at the time occupied by Japan who handed them over to Britain, when the China paid an indemnity with money given by Britain. Administered by Senior Naval Officer of Royal Navy.
1899. Administration transferred to a military and civil commissioner appointed by the War Office. Garrison consisted of 200 British troops and a specially constituted Chinese Regiment with British officers.
1901. Decision that the base should not be fortified and administration transferred to Colonial Office.
1902. Civil Commissioner appointed.
1903. Chinese Regiment disbanded.
1905. Russia left Port Arthur and under the terms of the lease WeiHaiWei should have reverted to China. At the request of Japan, and because Germany was occupying KiaoChow, Britain re-negotiated the lease.
1930. Administration returned to China but Britain continued to use facilities on loan for ten years.
It is unlikely that the badge ever appeared on a Blue Ensign. Any shipping needed during the military administration would have been supplied by the Royal Navy.
It seems reasonable to assume that the WeiHaiWei badge replaced the
LiuKungTau badge when the Civil Commissioner was appointed. The amendment
inserting the Liu Kung Tau badge into the Admiralty Flag Book was dated
November 1899 and the WeiHaiWei amendment, February 1904. These are amendment
dates not approval/adoption dates.
David Prothero, 2 January 2000
Putative Blue Ensign
by Jaume Ollé
by Martin Grieve
According to Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (1988) Weihai or
Weihaiwei is a seaport in Shantung province, northeast China at the eastern
end of peninsula on the north coast, 40 miles east of Chefoo and on southern
shore of the Strait of Pohai; a naval base, ship-repairing center, fishing
port; good harbor protected by Liu-Kung Island. History: Chinese fleet
destroyed here by Japanese 1895 and port occupied by Japanese 1895-98; leased
to Great Britain 1898 and used as a naval base; returned to China 1930;
occupied by Japanese 1938-1945; occupied by Communist naval forces 1949.
Jarig Bakker, 30 December 1999
Putative Blue Ensign
by Blas Delgado Ortiz
by Martin Grieve
This badge is also mentioned in those HMSO books I have right now, although
there's a footnote saying that the badge is "obsolete since 30th
Dipesh Navsaria, 16 February 1996
The ducks depicted are Mandarin ducks (Aix galericulata) with the male in the foreground and the female partly obscured. These ducks were endemic to China but their population was severely threatened. They were imported to the UK and through a combination of escapes and releases, there is a thriving population in southern England.
The species has been 'rediscovered' at some unknown sites in China and the
wild population is no longer thought to be endangered. It is slightly ironic
that Britain borrowed a Chinese port and then a Chinese duck was given loan of
the New Forest area.
Ian Peters, 10 August 2003
image contributed by Keir Laird, 22 March 2009
I came across the Weihaiwei colonial flag at a museum in Weihaiwei: (see
here and here
It looks pretty authentic but then I was at the 'Anti-Japanese Fascist et cet.
Museum' at the Marco Polo Bridge and dozens of flags were made of various
countries as they looked back in the 1930s.
Keir Laird, 22 March 2009
I don't think that this flag can be authentic. Surely the real flag would not
have had those white lines sewn in across the St. George in the Union.
Peter Johnson, 23 March 2009
Only the flag of Weihaiwei is included in the web-site provided by Keir, so we are not in a position to comment on whether the Liu Kung Tau flag at the museum is a defaced Union Jack or an ensign.
It seems the main point of contention is the ill-formed Union Jack in the photos. It is unclear if there are two Weihaiwei flags or one flag with two photos. Without a close-up image or an actual viewing of the flags we are not in a position to form a view on the apparent age of the flags. The apparent condition of the flag(s) suggests that it(they) may be re-constructions, though the actual badge of Weihaiwei does appear to be an original hand painting. If they are reconstructions, then the question becomes one of did the reconstruction copy an ill-formed original, or was it a poorly made modern flag? I suspect that it copied the original, and that there are enough examples of distorted Union Jacks for the original to have been made as poorly as the flag appears today.
I have a copy of the actual badge as inserted into the Admiralty flag book and it is similar to that drawn by Jaume Ollé (above). The badge shown on the Union Jack as drawn by Martin Grieve is incorrect - it is merely the Chinese imperial dragon treated as a governor's badge. I am inclined to agree with David that a blue ensign with the Liu Kung Tau was unlikely to have existed, particularly given the despatch from the Colonial Office dated 1 December 1902 (which is shown on the same page in respect of Weihaiwei) states "The design of the flag hitherto used by the Commissioner of this Dependency is a dragon on the Union Jack and is in my opinion quite unsuitable."
The only remaining uncertainty is
whether a Commissioner would have been entitled to the same garland
as a Governor at the time.
Ralph Kelly, 23 March 2009
Commissioners were entitled to a garland as the Order in Council of 7 August 1869 that introduced flags for governors covered, "Governors of all ranks and denominations administering the Governments of British Colonies and Dependencies." When the official was only an administrator the badge was on a Blue Ensign.
The only Union Jacks with a badge on a white disc with no garland were;
Principal Representative, British North Borneo Company;
Principal Representative, afloat, Imperial British East African Company;
Flag of the British South Africa Company;
Governor, Southern Rhodesia; and
Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia.
David Prothero, 24 March 2009
by Janko Ehrlich Zdvorak
Tsingto (German: Tsingtau) was the capital city and the port of the former German territory of Kiautschou (Jiaozhou) in China.
There wast neither any coat of arms, nor a flag for this territory. The only flag used in the territory was the service flag of the governor of Kiautschou. It was horizontally black-white-red with the Imperial eagle without crown in the middle of the white stripe. This flag wasn't specific to Kiautschou as it was also the service flag of the governor of East-Africa. Of course, in all German colonies were used military colours as well as the Imperial war flag.
Source: - Schurdel, Harry D., Flaggen und Wappen Deutschland,
Augsburg, Battenberg, 1995, pp.229-230.
Pascal Vagnat, 19 November 1999
The city that was spelled Tsing-Tao in the old Wade-Giles system is now Qingdao.
My 'Allers Illustrerede Konversations-Leksikon' says: Chinese until 1894,
when Japan took over. Retroceded in 1895. In 1898 leased
to Russia for 25 years. In 1905 ceded to Japan as a result of the
Ole Anderson, 20 November 1999
Eight European powers plus Japan had concessions in Tienstin between 1861 and 1947. Here is a good brief history: http://www.geocities.com/treatyport02/tientsin01.html
On the same site can be found the flag of the Tientsin Volunteers, a part- time British volunteer unit. Although it was formed in 1898, the flag was presented by the British Community of Tientsin in 1940, only 18 months before the Japanese invasion and occupation. The corps never reached battalion size (1000 men or 10 companies), being at peak strength about three companies. I believe this disqualified it from receiving regulation British Army style Colours.
I don't know of other foreign flags in Tientsin during the Treaty Port era,
but there must have been some (other than the national flags of those foreign
T.F. Mills, 12 September 2005