AN AMERICAN IN CHINA: 1936-39 A Memoir



Yantai ~ 烟台 

Chefoo (Yantai)


Chefoo, now called Yantai, was opened as a treaty port by the British in 1862. It was a summer station for the U.S. Asiatic fleet between the world wars. The waterfront, an atrraction for sailors on liberty, was once called the Brighton of China. Above, St. Andrew's Anglican Church at Chefoo.

Chefoo is known to foreigners as the site of the Chefoo School of the China Inland Mission, established in 1889 by the mission, under James Hudson Taylor. A Christian boarding school with a curriculum based on the British system, it provided education to the children of missionaries and the business and diplomatic communities. After Pearl Harbor, the school came under the control of the Japanese, and in 1943 the students were interned by the Japanese at nearby Weihsien. The missionary Eric Liddell, a 1924 Olympic champion runner and the hero of  “Chariots of Fire,” was also interned there and helped to organize sports for the children. He died at the camp in February 1945 of a brain tumor. Above, a photograph of the boys' school at Chefoo.



In January, 1937 G.H. Thomas writes, after an extensive journey by donkey caravan from Tsingtao (Qingdao):

It is wonderful to be at the Chefoo Club with real heat, lights, plumbing, good food, and a proper bed. Weihaiwei was disappointing. I stayed at a huge barnlike summer hotel that was almost empty. It was cheerless, uncomfortable and morguelike.

It is snowing heavily today — everything I see from the window is white. We had an appointment with a shipping firm, but they broke it because of the weather. I have been working hard and putting in long hours. I've called on approximately one hundred retail shops and small factories. I expect to stay about a week in Chefoo. Then we must take a long trip back southeast to Shihtao for a day or so, after which we'll proceed to Weihsien and down the railroad from there to Tsingtao.





An early view of Chefoo showing its idyllic setting by the bay


Above, French Consulate in Chefoo

In the early 20th century, citizens of 16 countries lived in Chefoo, now Yantai. Among the countries who had consulates there were France, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

Crazy "foreign devils" sporting themselves on the rocks of Chefoo in the early 1900s.


Chefoo's attractive homes and shoreline made it a favorite spot for expatriates and summer visitors

Yantai (formerly Chefoo) today is a stunning port city that has preserved a few of the old colonial buildings.
It might be quieter than Beijing or Shanghai but it is a lot more livable. According to China Daily, “The cities with most advanced environmental infrastructure are Dalian, Yantai, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Haikou, all of which are coastal cities.”



Modern Chefoo (Yantai) has preserved a great deal of greenery. It
appears to be a model of urban planning.
The greater Yantai area has a population, believe it or not, of 6.5 million people, more than metropolitan Dallas or Houston.

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