Carol G.S. Tan


In the leased territory of Weihaiwei, China (1898–1930), public health and related laws played an important part in the local British government’s effort to create and maintain a summer resort for European visitors. These laws ensured that the territory was clean, restful and safe from dangers to health, such as noxious fumes, rabies, infectious diseases and tainted food. Buildings in the town areas had to meet minimum standards of construction, ventilation, and sanitation; and the layout of streets, the location of factory buildings and building plans were subject to control. Beyond the physical environment, further cultural transformations were effected as European habits and tastes came to determine conceptions of space, time and leisure. Through express provision or uneven enforcement, public health laws helped to heighten the differences between the town areas in which visitors were expected to stay and the less regulated rural areas of the territory. This too, served to enhance the reputation of Weihaiwei as a summer destination because it offered familiar and modern comforts as well as the opportunity to observe a more authentic China a short distance away. Given the degree of intrusion into the lives of the local population that was authorized by the public health laws, a study of these laws also provides clues as to the conflict or convergence between the interests of the foreign British administration and those of the Chinese residing in the territory. More than ever before foreigners, resident in the commercial centres of the Far East, see the necessity of seeking holiday resorts each year where they can breathe pure air away from the congestion of the Asiatic cities. In fact it has come to be recognised as imperative to the preservation of health. By a happy hazard Providence has placed at their disposal an ideal health resort in WEIHAIWEI, situate at a few hours journey from a number of the business cities, so that commercial men can enjoy the full benefits of a first-class sanatorium, and still be within easy reach of the business world. In Weihaiwei there is the best of accommodation, where invalids will find quiet, idlers the best pure air, pleasure-seekers and sportsmen the best recreation. At the Queen’s Hotel are excellent, large and cool rooms, well furnished, first-class attendance, and the best cuisine the market can afford. Such are the unique advantages offered by the QUEEN’S HOTEL, WEIHAIWEI Ltd. (Advertisement for Queen’s Hotel, undated.)


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public health laws

How to Cite
Tan ك. (2012). Colonial cleansing: Laws for a summer resort in China. International Review of Law, 2012(1). Retrieved from