British director telling story of Chinese Titanic survivors

Updated 2018-04-19 10:16:05

A screenshot from the documentary The Six showing an old photo of Titanic survivor Fang Lang. (Photo/facebook.com/thesixdocumentary)

Six Chinese survived the legendary tragedy of the RMS Titanic, but disappeared soon after. Now a British documentarian, Arthur Jones, will uncover their stories and histories of discrimination.

There were eight Chinese between the ages of 24 and 37 on the Titanic, boiler workers sharing one 59-pound third-class ticket, according to the record of Titanic Cruise Line, but only six survived from its sinking. When they arrived in the United States, they were not helped, like the other 705 survivors. Instead they were forced to leave the country within 24 hours, because of the Chinese Exclusion Act signed in 1882.

Some westerners questioned the six Chinese survivors as stowaways and claimed that they survived because they secretly climbed on the lifeboat or dressed as women to board lifeboats.

But Jones believes they did not do anything disgraceful in order to survive the disaster after visiting foreign archives, museums and cooperating with American and Chinese historians. This is not only a story about the survivors of Titanic, but also a story of a group of brave Chinese people exploring the outside world at that time, he said.

When the giant ship slammed into an iceberg, like other third-class passengers the eight Chinese were released from the locked gates at last, but not allowed to board the lifeboat. Luckily, four of them boarded a small broken boat, and one was rescued by another lifeboat. Another one, Fang Lang, floated on a piece of the ship's wreckage in the sea. The only returning lifeboat saved him from freezing.

To restore their overlooked stories, Jones and his team found the son of Fang Lang in Wisconsin, US, after searching through China, the US, Britain and Canada. In May, Jones will visit Taishan city in south China's Guangzhou province, recorded as the survivors' hometown. The filmmakers also established a website, whoarethesix.com, for more clues.

Ordinarily, people think of Titanic as a story of rich white people, but don't know there were people from all over the world, including Chinese. Their stories are never told, Jones said.

The documentary The Six is expected to be released in China late this year.

The names of the eight Chinese on Titanic were recorded as Fang Lang,Lee Bing, Ali Lam, Chang Chip, Choong Foo, Lee Ling, Ling Lee and Len Lam.

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