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CollectionsHong Kong, Benevolent City: Tung Wah and the Growth of Chinese CommunitiesHistory of Tung Wah ServicesEpilogue

Renowned late Qing scholar Wang Tao wrote an essay entitled Chuangjian Donghua Yiyuan Xu to mark the founding of Tung Wah Hospital. According to this source, the name “Tung Wah” was bestowed upon the hospital for evident reasons: “Tung” refers to the east where all life originates, while “Wah” means prosperity when all aspects of life flourish. Thus apart from referring to “Chinese people of Guangdong” as is commonly believed, the characters dong hua can also mean “prosper and flourish”.

Time indeed flies. The Tung Wah Group of Hospitals has served Chinese people unremittingly for over 140 years. Upholding the pledge of its founders, the group has consistently expanded its scope of services to meet the demands of society, earning the support and recognition of the people of Hong Kong. In addition to the people of Hong Kong, Tung Wah’s benevolence has also touched many overseas Chinese communities. In the tumultuous history of modern China, the work of Tung Wah calls for profound reflection and provides insights for the quest of harmony in today’s society.

Deeply rooted in Hong Kong, the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals was founded on the basis of Western law while being led by local Chinese merchants and members of gentry. Apart from offering free medical services to the people of Hong Kong, the group is also involved in charitable deeds and relief efforts of all sorts. The success of its benevolent work is emblematic of the power of a people supported by the government, when all walks of life in society join hands for the well-being of the Chinese people. The contributions of Tung Wah in the areas of medical, healthcare, education, social services, funeral and disaster relief have been in part the result of the traditional Chinese ethical value le shan hao shi (to experience joy through good deeds), but they were also due to the fact that, under Hong Kong’s unique historical circumstances, Chinese people had to come together to defend their own rights. Tung Wah’s development is intricately intertwined with the history of Hong Kong and has become the most important link in the saga known as “Hong Kong”.

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