Hong Kong has been a unique society from its establishment as a political region separate from mainland China in the nineteenth century under British colonial rule until the present day as a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. A hub of interregional and international migration, it has been the temporary and long-term home of people belonging to many racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. This book examines the evolution of the community established by clergy and congregants of the Russian Orthodox Church. This community was first developed in the 1930s and then revived after a hiatus of over two decades from the 1970s to the 1990s with the founding of the Orthodox Parish of Apostles Saints Peter and Paul (OPASPP) at the turn of the twenty-first century. This study demonstrates how the OPASPP has become a vital provider of knowledge about Russian language and culture as well as a religious institution serving both heritage and convert believers. The community formed by and around the OPASPP is important to foster Sino-Russian relations based on individual-to-individual contact and mutual exposure to Chinese and Russian cultures in a region of China which allows spiritual and social diversity with minimal political constraints.
Loretta E. Kim is associate professor and coordinator of the China Studies program at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures of the University of Hong Kong.
Chengyi Zhou is a PhD candidate in China Studies at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures of the University of Hong Kong.
List of Figures
List of Tables
Conventions and Abbreviations
Note to Readers
Chapter 1: Sino-Russian Relations, Christianity in Greater China, and Religious and Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong
Chapter 2: Foundation and Revival
Chapter 3: The Russian Language Center
Chapter 4: The China Orthodox Press
Chapter 5: The OPASPP as a Hong Kong Community
About the Authors
In writing about the Russian Orthodox community of Hong Kong, Kim and Zhou show how even the most conservative faith is dynamic and overlooked minority community consequential through the concerted efforts of its members. Beneficiaries as well as benefactors of an open society well into the twenty-first century, residents of Hong Kong have enjoyed this chance to shape their spiritual, communal, and productive lives. That may be why readers with their own stories and lived experience of ethnicity will find in this book so much that is familiar. Cherish this impression lest it fade.
A triumph of erudite scholarship on a lesser-known part of Hong Kong’s historic religious landscape. This finely researched and engagingly written text provides unique insight into Hong Kong’s religious and ethnic diversity. Focusing on the Russian Orthodox Church, it highlights the unique scenario of a foreign ethnic church with a substantial Hong Kong Chinese congregation, the novel issue of ‘double minorities’ in Hong Kong, and the central theme of Sino–Russian relations. The close historical reading is fused with a contemporary social history that addresses disparate cases, such as a child pursuing language education through exposure to Russian cartoons on YouTube, and the conversion of a woman who reads Orthodox texts aloud in the Hakka dialect. This history of Christianity in China is a much-valued contribution to the unfolding narrative of Hong Kong’s diverse past and present.
In this informative and meticulously researched book, Loretta Kim and Chengyi Zhou uncover the little-known story of the religious and cultural revival of the Russian Orthodox church and community in Hong Kong during the late twentieth century to the present. The authors draw interesting parallels between the historical long presence of Orthodox Christianity in China and East Asia, and the religious and sociocultural diversity of Hong Kong during the latter’s transition from British colony to the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. This book’s original arguments and engaging narrative will appeal to those interested in Russian Orthodox activities, organizations, and identity in Hong Kong and Greater China.
This important work by Loretta Kim and Chengyi Zhou is a welcome and long-needed contribution to the study of Orthodox Christianity in East Asia. Other than scattered books on the Church of the East, Russian Orthodox mission in Beijing, and the life of John Maximovitch of Shanghai, very little has been published on Eastern Christians in Asia, even less on Russian Orthodoxy in Hong Kong. Kim and Zhou write with clarity and scholarly insight about a small but important religious community in Hong Kong. This book is must-read for those interested in a significant link in the long history of Sino–Russian relations.
This long-awaited book shows us why a long-neglected Russian Orthodox Community in Hong Kong has been impacting on Sino-Russian relations. A path-breaking case-study demonstrates how a Russian Orthodox Community sustains and operates in the socio-cultural context in East Asia. It will be a major contribution to the fields of Hong Kong studies and Russian Orthodox Christianity.