Forgotten benefactor helped hide the movement's leaders

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 March, 2011, 12:00am

The man who set up the revolutionary base at Castle Peak Farm is largely forgotten, just like the history of the site he owned.

In the exhibition on the centenary of the 1911 Revolution now running at the Museum of History, Li Ki-tong, a man of wealth and position who donated his fortune at the cost of bankruptcy, is mentioned nowhere, even though the exhibition has a section highlighting Hong Kong as a cradle of the movement.

Li, who inherited a fortune from his father, belonged to the revolutionary societies Xing Zhong Hui and Tong Meng Hui and worked with revolutionary leader Tse Tsan-tsai, co-founder of the South China Morning Post.

Li, who had connections with dealers in firearms, set up a farm at Castle Peak, which was ostensibly for the purpose of growing crops but really served as a secluded headquarters for the revolutionaries - including Feng Ziyou and Huang Xing - to hide from authorities. It also provided space for testing and storing firearms, which were to be used in uprisings in Guangdong.

Li established a grocery store at Central Market to sell his farm products. It was popular among Europeans and all profits went to the revolutionary cause. However, Li's family did not support the revolution. He once even suggested to his comrades a plan to kidnap himself and then secure a ransom from his family to be used for the revolution.

Li's money also went to support propaganda, for example, in backing the newspaper Zhongguo Ribao, and setting up a school in Kowloon in 1904 to spread revolutionary ideas and military training.


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