Back to All Events

Lecture - Israel and China: From the Tang Dynasty to Silicon Wadi - Mr. Mark O'Neill

  • Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Cafe 8 Man Kwong Street Central, Hong Kong Island Hong Kong (map)

The Jews of China is one of the most extraordinary and little-known stories of China’s history. It begins in the Tang dynasty in the eighth century, when the first Jews from the Middle East followed the overland Silk Road and settled in central China. It runs until today, with a flourishing Jewish life in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and other major cities. Relations between China and Israel, established in 1992, are flourishing in many sectors, including education, high technology, medicine, agriculture, commerce and the military.

Judaism and China are two of the oldest civilisations in the world. They share much in common –importance of family, education and community life, veneration of ancestors and importance of harmony and social order. China is one of the few countries in the world that has never persecuted Jews. This has given it a status and esteem among Jewish people. In December 1918, the Republic of China was one of the first countries to support a Jewish national home in Palestine, just one year after the Balfour Declaration by the British government in favour of it. That same year, the Japanese government also declared its support for a Jewish national home. Between 1931 and 1945, Japan controlled large areas of China that were home to tens of thousands of Jews; it treated them in the same way as it did other foreigners and refused pressure by its Nazi ally to follow its example.

The Speaker

Mark O’Neill, a British journalist, has worked in Britain, Hong Kong and Taiwan. He joined Reuters, the world’s leading news agency, in 1983. During his 13 years with Reuters he spent time in Hong Kong, New Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo. After Reuters, Mr O’Neill joined the South China Morning Post, for which he worked in Beijing and Shanghai. Since 2007 he has lectured in journalism at Baptist University, Hong Kong University and the United International College, Zhuhai. He continues to be a freelance journalist for various publications including the South China Morning Post. 

His past work includes a biography of his grandfather Rev Frederick O’Neill, an Irish Presbyterian missionary in China, a book about the Chinese Labour Corp in Europe, and the Chinese in Russia during World War One. He has also written about 12 outstanding people of Xiangshan in the late Qing and early Republican periods.

Mark is a frequent lecturer for the RAS and many members will recall his excellent talks which included a talk on the two Palace Museums in Beijing and Taipei, “The Miraculous History of China’s Two Palace Museums” “兩故宫的世纪傳奇”.

This evening he will be speaking about his latest book “Israel and China: From the Tang Dynasty to Silicon Wadi”.

Reception opens 6:30 pm, talk starts 7:00 pm

Admission: RAS Members $100; Non-Members / Guests $150

Booking: Please email < in advance to reserve your place and pay at the door.