L’histoire des travailleurs chinois pendant la première guerre mondiale.

Exposition à Lille, à la MER.
Samedi 18 novembre à 15h

Les travailleurs chinois, oubliés de la Grande guerre, rencontre avec l’Historienne Li Ma, ce Samedi 18 novembre 2017 à 15h à la MRES de Lille – Organisation : L’Atelier d’Histoire Critique et les Amis Du Monde Diplomatique – Entrée libre


Les travailleurs chinois, oubliés de la Grande guerre.

Entre 1916 et 1922, sur la demande des autorités françaises et anglaises, en manque de main-d’oeuvre, 140 000 Chinois sont envoyés par leur gouvernement dans une Europe ravagée par la guerre, notamment dans le Nord-Pas-de-Calais. L’histoire de ces travailleurs qui ont dû s’adapter à de rudes conditions de vie et faire face au racisme des sociétés européennes les employant est largement méconnue.

“Pendant la Première Guerre mondiale, l’armée britannique utilisait une main-d’œuvre recrutée en Chine pour permettre d’avoir plus de soldats au front. À Boulogne, ils servaient notamment comme manœuvres pour décharger les navires au port. Ces travailleurs vivaient dans des conditions très difficiles jusqu’à ce qu’ils se mettent en grève le 5 septembre 1917. Le 74e Chinese labour Corp cesse le travail. Le général Douglas Haig, commandant en chef de l’armée britannique basé à Montreuil, ordonne une sévère répression. Les soldats tirent à vue : 27 Chinois non armés sont abattus dans les rues de Boulogne, 39 blessés et 25 emprisonnés.”

Depuis quelques années, des chercheurs et des associations s’attellent à remédier à cela. C’est notamment le cas, de l’historienne Li Ma, enseignante-chercheuse à l’Université du Littoral-Côte d’Opale et spécialiste de la question.

Fb : Atelier d’histoire critique
@ :

C’est le 18 Novembre 15h à la MRES,
Maison régionale de l’environnement et des solidarités
3 rue Gosselet
59000 Lille
Métro Lille Grand Palais
Source :



Dertien van Busseboom – The Busseboom Thirteen and Belgium’s Memorial to the Chinese Labour Corps.

Exactly one hundred years ago today thirteen members of the Chinese Labour Corps were killed when their camp received a direct hit during an air raid.

Quite some gunfire at night. At the Poeper a Chinese camp is hit by shellfire. Several yellow men are killed.

From the diary of local priest, Father van Walleghem

The Chinese casualties were buried near the Roobaertbeek, but later exhumed and transferred to Bailleul Cemetery.
We remember them:

CHAO PING WEN Labourer 29119
KUO YU HIS Labourer 28996
LAN SHU THE Labourer 28995
LI CHI MAO Labourer 29009
LI HSI SHUN Labourer 29073
LIU PING KUEI Labourer 29038
LIU WAN CHI Labourer 29147
LUAN CHENG TSENG Labourer 29149
MA HSIAO LIN Labourer 28957
SHAO CHEN CHIANG Labourer 29501
WANG CHANG HO Labourer 29992
WANG CHANG HO Labourer 29135
WANG YUNG CHUN Labourer 29029

On this, the centennial anniversary of that tragedy, a memorial to the Chinese labourers has been unveiled at the same spot in Poperinge. It is the first memorial in Belgium to the Chinese Labour Corps. France has two memorials, the first erected several decades ago. A third will be unveiled in Arras next month.

Of the countries directly involved, the UK is the only one that still has no public memorial to the Chinese Labour Corps, though our task to remedy this is getting closer to completion. Our congratulations to all those involved in the Poperinge memorial.


Chinese Labour Corps Remembered at the Cenotaph for the First Time.

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph in Whitehall in memory of the Chinese labourers who came to support the Allied war effort in the First World War. The act comes amid growing momentum to activities, including the Ensuring We Remember Campaign, organised both inside and outside of the Chinese community to inform and educate the British public on this long neglected chapter of our history.

It is worth remembering that over 100,000 Chinese volunteers joined Britain and her allies in the First World War. They served on the Western Front (96,000), in Mesopotamia (5,000)  and in East Africa (1,000). Thousands more served in the British merchant navy. Many made the ultimate sacrifice with the number of Chinese who died while assisting Britain’s war effort believed to be around 5,500. Totally unprepared for what they would encounter, the mental health of the Chinese labourers suffered hugely. Thousands succumbed to a variety of psychiatric disorders. While officials deemed cases of total insanity “inexplicably high”, and with around 350 such cases, were high indeed; perhaps not so inexplicable given that they were compelled after the Armistice to exhume and rebury the war dead in the new cemeteries.

As we have stated often, over 60,000 war memorials were built in the few decades after the war. Surprisingly,  given the contribution the Chinese made and the price they paid, it is difficult to understand why neither China nor the Chinese labourers are mentioned on even just one of them, and yet there are at ;east six memorials to Japan; four to contributions made by animals; and even two memorials dedicated to Germans.

Commenting on the historical lack of recognition afforded the Chinese, Lord Bourne, Minister for Communities at the Department for Communities and Local Government said,

“It is ironic that those who were so instrumental in the creation of such iconic places of remembrance as the Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries were then, themselves, forgotten.”

A contingent of over 30, the largest after the Western From Associations contingent, paraded in commemoration of the Chinese labourers, in the annual Western Front Association’s commemorative service at the Cenotaph.

Ms Wenlan Peng, who co-ordinated the community’s participation, said,

“These simple men left their homes in the Far East, some forever, to travel to the alien West and toiled through those years of the turbulent past to help secure for us a peaceful today. We are laying wreaths to them on Armistice Day to honour them and to bring them to the attention of the wider British public, for the story of the Chinese Labour Corps belongs not only to China, but also to Britain. It is a shared history and it is therefore only right that we come together to remember them through a shared gesture. “

Further events to raise awareness of the Chinese contribution in the Great War will continue from various organisations, including Meridian Society, Ming Ai Institute, China Exchange, and the Ensuring We Remember Campaign will, of course continue its mission to inform, educate and inspire, including through the fulfilment of the campaign’s primary objective, the unveiling of a national memorial to the Chinese labourers and the British Officers who commanded them –  expect more exciting news on this in the next few weeks!


Duton’s Continue to Support the Campaign

We are delighted to once again have been generously supported by Duton’s at the third edition of their Appreciation of China presentation which is taking place to take place in Mayfair, London from 5th – 8th November, a highlight of the 20th Anniversary of Asian Art in London.

Entitled The Exhibition of Chinese Legacy, it features a rare array of ceramic and sculptural masterpieces that have received praise from Chinese and international museums alike. The collections range from painted potteries from the Neolithic period and the Northern Qi Dynasty to Tang Dynasty horses, camels and auspicious beasts.

The hero piece of the exhibition is a monolithic pair of painted horses, approximately 90 centimeters in height, the likes of which would be extraordinary to find in any institutional collection around the world. The exhibition boasts an impressive collection of famille verte porcelains from the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty, recognisable for their iconic life-like paintings in bold colours, favoured by sophisticated noblemen and scholars.

There’s still time, just , to see this incredible collection of Chinese art:

Sunday 5th November – Wednesday 8th November from 9:30 – 19:30
Grosvenor House Hotel, Mayfair, W1K 7TN
Co-hosted by Oxford Authentication and supported by Barratt London

Screening of the film Forgotten Faces of the Great War: The Chinese Labour Corps.

01 November, 2017 at 2pm (till 4pm).
152/3 Cayley Room, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW

As part of a two-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to commemorate the Chinese Labour Corps (CLC), The Meridian Society has made a film of oral histories with descendants of Chinese labourers and their Western commanding officers. Peng Wenlan, documentary filmmaker and director of the society’s heritage project, will give a brief introduction to the historical background of the CLC story, with insights into the political machinations behind the scenes. This will be followed by a screening of the film Forgotten Faces of the Great War: The Chinese Labour Corps.

Ticket reservation.

Chinese Labour Corps Photobook

An incredible collection of candid photographs of the Chinese Labour Corps taken on the Western Front by Captain WJ Hawkings. More details here.

Presentation: Propaganda and Shifted Reality

A presentation by Steve Lau, Chair of the Ensuring We Remember Campaign, at the launch event of, The Stories behind the Pictures: Colonial Troops in the First World War. This event is being held at

University of Hull,

Friday, 20th October.
An outline of the presentation follows.

By the outbreak of the First World War photography was the hobby of millions around the world. Although the technology had been looked at by the military, its significance was not to be developed fully until the First World War.

This short presentation will give a very brief introduction to the militarisation of photography, In particular it will explore the use of the photographic image as a tool for influencing the opinions of the public at home, as well as the public and governments overseas. This propaganda use of photographs will be brought into sharper focus by comparing and contrasting the official photographic record, as published by the Ministry of Information (1914-1918) with unofficial photographs, most particularly those  by Captain William J Hawkings, of the Chinese Labour Corps (

The presentation shall be drawn to an end with reflections on how, a hundred years on, our use of these photographs have changed? Debunked, what value can we attach to propaganda photographs of the Great War? And if at all, where have we managed to shift reality to?

The event is ticketed but free, tickets available here.

Talk and Oral History Film

Parliament and World War One: The forgotten Chinese Labourers of World War One
UK Parliament Outreach and Engagement Service
Tuesday, 7 November 2017 from 19:00 to 20:30 (GMT), Portcullis House, Parliament, London.

In an entertaining and informative talk Frances Wood, author of Betrayed Ally: China and the Great War and former curator of Chinese Collections at the British Library, will outline the historical background to the CLC story, with insights into the political manoeuvres and debates in Parliament. Her talk will be followed by an oral history film Forgotten Faces of the Great War: The Chinese Labour Corps, presented by Peng Wenlan, documentary filmmaker and director of The Meridian Society’s two-year project commemorating the CLC and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The event will be hosted by Lord Wallace of Saltaire a member of the government’s Advisory Board for the Commemoration of World War One . There will be a Q&A after the screening.

Ticket reservation.

Videos Re-organised

We have reorganised the way our videos are presented. Hopefully the new layout will make it easier to see what is available and to access them. Find our videos from the link on the left hand side of this page.


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