New US diplomatic effort engages Hong Kong kids in shared China-U.S. history

The US Consulate General, Hong Kong-America Center and Hong Kong Maritime Museum are pioneering a joint educational initiative utilizing the popularity of on-line gaming so youngsters can experience the shared history and long-standing commercial ties between the two countries.

The US Consulate General is supporting an exciting new diplomatic initiative aimed at 10-14 year-old school students in Hong Kong, which combines education, on-line gaming and local maritime history.

A new on-line game called the Canton Trade Game is being developed by one of Hong Kong’s leading coding academies on the Roblox gaming platform. It creates a virtual replica of the trading relationship between the U.S. and China, in the early 19th century.

The game, designed by local STEM academy, Koding Kingdom, is now in an advanced stage of development and students are regularly invited to test the game and make their own contributions to the final version. It is already proving very popular with youngsters and allows them to create ‘game assets’ such as ships, money and crews before voyaging from the east coast of the United States in sailing ships. They must evade pirates and storms to engage in trade with Chinese merchants in old Canton (Guangzhou). Players can compete with friends on-line to see who can create the most successful trading company.

The game was the brainchild of the Hong Kong-America Center, and the US Consulate General obtained resources for the project from a special U.S. Department of State fund to encourage innovation in public diplomacy. The fund was created in 2010 to quickly identify and publicize innovative ideas by supporting pilot programs carried out by U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. The Hong Kong project was one of only 29 in the world to be approved in 2018 and is the only one currently being run in China.

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum has been on hand to verify the game’s historical authenticity and host student testing sessions, but the emphasis has been on learning history by gaming.

The Game’s official launch is scheduled for end of 2019 and might also become a permanent interactive exhibit at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.

“We are excited about bringing to life our shared history with Hong Kong through this fun and innovative project. This collaboration is a great way to celebrate the 175th anniversary our Consulate General in Hong Kong,” says US Consul General Kurt Tong.

“Young people often think things happening now are for the first time. Not so. There are old stories repeating themselves, with slight variations, in current events, including in the Sino American trade disputes under negotiation today,” says Glenn Shive, Executive Director of the Hong Kong America Centre.

“This is proving to be a highly successful way of engaging youngsters in an important part of the shared maritime history of the U.S. and China,” says Richard Wesley, Director of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum has been extremely active in reaching out to the local community, particularly its younger members. In May the HKMM launched a joint project, NAUTIC QEUST with funding provided by the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board through the Maritime and Aviation Fund.


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