Archival Research

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Archival Research 2018-12-11T09:19:06+00:00

Decoding Hong Kong’s History (Archival Research)

“Archives are witnesses to the past. They provide evidence, explanation and justification both for past actions and current decisions. Good archives management is not just about storing records for history and research. Archives are central to good governance.”

— International Council on Archives

Every generation seeks to re-conceptualise a history they never lived; likewise, every society seeks to relate to its past through research and curation of historical archives. As the number of historical archives destroyed by the Hong Kong government skyrockets year by year, Hong Kong now faces a crisis of “total archival destruction”. The decoding, preservation and utilisation of historical archives provides a solid theoretical basis for analysing the plethora of problems in contemporary Hong Kong society.

Since 2017, Decoding Hong Kong’s History has maintained a research team based in London, organised multiple workshops, and has joined forces with the public to disclose more than 600 pieces of archival material related to Hong Kong’s future, in order to piece together the details of the pre-handover political negotiations. Meanwhile, we also regard these archives as a useful method to serve public discussions regarding constitutional disputes, such as breaches of the Joint Declaration.

We also actively seek these archives from the UK government. Many post-war Hong Kong archives were moved to the UK before the handover, and these migrated archives have remained classified in the FCO for many years. We have joined forces with the public to pressure the FCO to implement a concrete timetable for declassifying these archives. More than half of the files related to Hong Kong in the National Archives remain undisclosed as well, so we are now resorting to filing an appeal in the hope that these archives will be made available very soon.

Historical archives are important in initiating discussions on Hong Kong’s problems. Decoding Hong Kong’s History seeks to build a public library, curating more than 1,000 pieces of archival material relevant to Hong Kong’s many problems, as well as requesting the release of archives related to Hong Kong from the UK government, so as to facilitate public discussion.

Curated feature articles over media platforms and used archives as an introduction to China-Hong Kong political discussions, including such topics as the PRC Constitution’s Article 31 and the Sino-British Joint Declaration;

Urged the FCO to release more pre-1997 Hong Kong-related files and monitored the archival management of the HK government

Collected 600 files related to Hong Kong and digitized them into searchable documents;

Fundraising Targets

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Future Goals

To build a public library with 1,000 searchable files;

To chronicle the details of pre-handover political negotiations;

To use archives to further political discussions relating to China and Hong Kong;

To urge the FCO to release more classified pre-1997 HK files

To monitor the running of Hong Kong Public Records Building in Kwun Tong, to promote the legislation of Archives Law, and to improve the policies and use of the archives