Tiu Keng Leng – A Former Guomindang Enclave in British Hong Kong
Tiu Keng Leng (調景嶺; pinyin: Tiáojǐnglǐng) is an area in Hong Kong’s Sai Kung District. Today it is a modern neighbourhood with high-rise buildings and shopping malls, but in the past it used to be a settlement of Guomindang sympathisers and supporters of the Republic of China (ROC).
Tiu Keng Leng is often called ‘Rennie’s Mill’, after Alfred Herbert Rennie. Born in Canada in 1857, Rennie moved to Hong Kong in 1890. He found work as a clerk at the Government Public Works Department but he resigned in 1895 to start his own business. He wanted to build a flour mill, since Hong Kong imported flour from abroad at the time. He bought land at Junk Bay (Tseung Kwan O) and built his mill between 1905 and 1906. However, the business turned unprofitable and failed. Desperate and disillusioned, Rennie drowned himself in 1908 (Bard 2002, p. 234).
The Chinese-speaking population henceforth called the area 吊頸嶺 (Tiu Keng Leng, literally “hanging neck ridge”). As the name was considered too inauspicious, it was later changed into the similar-sounding 調景嶺.
As the ROC government collapsed during the Chinese Civil War and retreated to Taiwan in 1949, many Guomindang refugees and ROC supporters moved to Tiu Keng Leng from mainland China. A community arouse which was in many respects unique; it was a semi-autonomous Guomindang enclave made up of huts and improvised buildings constructed by the refugees for lack of government housing. It had its own schools, and flags of the ROC were displayed publicly as if the settlement had been part of the ROC.
The parents of the current ROC President Ma Yingjiu (who was born in 1950 in Hong Kong) settled in Tiu Keng Leng for a brief period, and he lived there as a baby before the family moved to Taiwan.
The Double Ten Day, the National Day of the ROC, was celebrated each year in Tiu Keng Leng as one of the most important events of the community (until the handover to the People’s Republic of China [PRC] in 1997, the Double Ten Day was celebrated publicly by ROC sympathisers in Hong Kong).
Tiu Keng Leng was designated a resettlement area in the 1960s by governor Robert Black, but it was only in 1996 that the last ones of the approximately 6,000 residents were relocated. Tiu Keng Leng was completely redeveloped as part of Tseung Kwan O New Town. Whether this was a move to please the Communist authorities before the handover, remains to this day a matter of speculation.