The implication of the social relief of Hong Kong in the early twentieth century has not been stressed sufficiently by researchers on social administration. The post‐colonial historiography, which would likely be dominated by Chinese communist historians, most probably will reinforce the reductionist view ‘British imperialist was indifferent to the social relief for Hong Kong grassroots’ to fit in the political correctness of the upcoming hegemony. This documentary analysis shows a different picture to the above common sense. Based on the new picture, we try to unveil the danger lurking in the anti‐imperialist nationalism, and suggest a possible new understanding of the history of Hong Kong's social welfare development. Copyright © 1997 Carfax Publishing Ltd.