Qingdao, the only battleground in Asia got involved in the Great War

(For the Chinese version and more photos, please click here)

Though seems everyone in China knows Qingdao while living in the UK just over three years, I realised that not too many people heard about this city, not to mention the history. As a matter of fact, this is an only place hosted a fight in Asia during the Great War.

As we all known, China is a big country, to be famous in China is not easy, either you become the political centre, like Beijing; or the financial centre, like Shanghai. Or the national central city or the capital city in the province. However, Qingdao has none of those titles, while growing up in the city, ever since we need to write ‘my hometown’, the most popular sentence to start with was ‘My hometown is a cosy seaside town’.

Qingdao No.1 Bathing Beach ©Tian Lan

Though by the end of 2014, the population already reached 9 million according to China Daily. Qingdao is a relatively small city in China, this is truth. Nevertheless, what makes the city is well-known in China seems all related to the period of German colony time.

It all went back before the Great War, by the year of 1898, Germany officially occupied Qingdao, though they already control the area back to 1891, then changed the name to ‘Tsingtao’. If you are a fan of German beer, you might familiar with the name, as one of the most famous brands in China, Tsingtao Brewery was founded in 1903.

Qingdao beer carnival back to 2009 ©Tian Lan

Whereas beer is not the only thing German brought to Qingdao, during the 23 years occupied period, German built the port that became part of the logo of Tsingtao Brewery and still exists; the train station that kept the original looking after more than 100 years; the European style mansion area and churches that became the attractions which everyone will visit.

Moreover, Qingdao still partly benefit from the city construction done by German. When many cities were suffered from the floods caused by the heavy rain every summer, the original sewer system built by German still doing their own jobs.

Qingdao No.6 Bathing Beach ©Tian Lan

Some people argues that being the former colony is not a thing to be proud, and German also did horrible things while they were in Qingdao. Whereas for me, I bet a lot of things happened back then, but from what I can see and I know nowadays, Qingdao is benefited more from being the colony of Germany.

Though Qingdao was the colony of Germany, it was British who kicked German off in 1919 with its Japanese alliance. Since I am living in the UK, I found a lot of memories here about Qingdao.

St. Michael’s Cathedral, aka Zhejiang Road Catholic Church ©Tian Lan

In the British Library, there is a permanent exhibition area called ‘Philatelic Exhibition’, on the slide NO. 11, there is a postcard on the right-hand side drew my attention (unfortunately no photo allowed), you might not find the name ‘Qingdao’ or ‘Tsingtao’; however, you will find the German words ‘Kiautschou Bay’ on the right bottom corner which based in Qingdao.

Moreover, If you visit the China section in V&A museum, one of the posters with the elegant Chinese lady on was from Qingdao. There must be more that I have not discovered yet…

The shopping street in Qingdao, Tai Dong Rd ©Tian Lan

Nowadays, the so-called ‘modernization’ in China intending to build a better image in the world and bringing a better life to people. However, modernization also destroyed a lot of histories and memories.

I bet Qingdao will look so different now, nevertheless, it will be the ‘cosy seaside town’ in my mind forever.


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