West River British Steamship Company
Even though Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories had become a British colony, and Macao was a Portuguese possession, people in Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China were free to travel between these places and work in all three. No permit was required for people travelling between these places. As there was political instability in China, many Chinese came to work in Hong Kong and Macao. Together with the growth in trade between Hong Kong, Macao and China, there was a high demand for sea transport along the coasts of China in the early 20th century. The total number of passengers travelling between the coastal regions of China, Macao and Hong Kong by sea increased from 155,216 in 1900 to 171,982 in 1920. Because of the continuous growth in demand, many steamship companies operated services between the coastal regions of China, Macao and Hong Kong. The Hongkong Canton & Macao Steamboat Co. was the leading company running the Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao line. It provided sailings twice daily between Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao. There were other companies that operated the Hong Kong and Guangdong routes, including the Yuen On Steamship Company, the Shiu On Steamship Company, the Guangdong Navigation Company, China Merchant Steam Navigation Company, and Messageries Cantonnaises. Besides Guangdong and Macao, some steamship companies also provided sailings between Hong Kong and Wuzhou, Sanshui, Zhaoqing and Siyi. These companies included the West River British Steamship Company, the Sze Yap Steamship Company and China Navigation Company. Apart from steamship services, many passenger junks also provided services between the coastal regions of China, Macao and Hong Kong. Because of the strike-cum-boycott from 1925 to 1926 and the Japanese invasion in the 1930s, the total number of passengers travelling between the coastal regions of China, Macao and Hong Kong by sea decreased to 148,568 in 1931 and further decreased to 93,780 in 1937. Following the Japanese invasion of Guangzhou in 1938, all sea transport between the coastal regions of China, Macao and Hong Kong was suspended.  (1)
外務省通商局：《香港事情》（東京：啟成社，大正6年），頁107-123; Annual Report on the Social and Economic Progress of the People of the Colony of Hong Kong, 1931, p. 24; Report on the Social and Economic Progress of the People of the Colony of Hong Kong, 1938, pp. 40-41; Endacott, A History of Hong Kong, pp. 288-294; Reports of the Harbour Master, 1900, 1920; Reports of the Harbour Master and Director of Air Services, 1931, 1937, 1938, 1939.
- Marine Department: Part 1 Chapter 4, 1899 – 1940: Changing to an international port – Chapter 4.3The development of regional and international passenger transport Contributor: Sham Wai-chi, Eddie
This article was first posted on 29th June 2021.
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