The 6 Chinese Titanic survivors
Just when you thought you’ve heard just about everything that there is to hear about the infamous RMS Titanic and it’s (ok… “her”…) maiden voyage on April 15th, 1912, some more information appears. It might be the discovery of rusty piece of hull or maybe a silver spoon that was most likely shoved into a baby’s face in the upper decks. You don’t usually hear of something huge like ginormous precious gem on a necklace (fingers crossed on that one). You don’t expect to learn of another survivor.. and you most definitely don’t expect to learn about 1/2 dozen of them.
Unsinkable to the unthinkable
In the early hours of April 15, 1912, a lifeboat navigated the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean for any sign of life. Hours earlier, the unthinkable had happened: The RMS Titanic, a majestic ocean liner deemed “unsinkable,” had struck an iceberg and slowly disappeared into the sea on its maiden voyage.
Hundreds of passengers fled in lifeboats. Hundreds more perished, going down with the ship or freezing to death in the icy water. The only one of Titanic’s lifeboats to turn back to the wreckage found body after body — until it discovered a young Chinese man, still alive, clinging to a piece of wood.
That man would be one of six Chinese passengers who survived the Titanic, a little-known fact about the historic disaster that has largely remained untold or distorted, owing to a racially hostile environment toward Chinese people in the West at the turn of the 20th century.
A new documentary – The Six tells the true-life story of the eight Chinese passengers who were on the ill-fated ship’s maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
Of the eight, six managed to survive the tragedy which killed over 1,5000 people back in 1912; however, until now very few details about them have been known.
Documentary maker Arthur Jones has spent over two years investigating the story behind the men, delving into the archives and working with top historian and researcher Steven Schwankert. They also used social media to help find out information, which Jones said brought in a lot of new leads.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Jones said: “Of the 700 survivors of the Titanic disaster, the six Chinese men never told their stories. Why were they ignored?
“The global press loved and continues to love the Titanic story, chronicling every little detail, right down to the size of the ashtrays in second class. But nothing was reported about the Chinese passengers.
“Who were they, why were they on board and what happened to them after the disaster? And how did so many get on a lifeboat?”
The pair discovered that the men were called Lee Bing, Fang Lang, Chang Chip, Ah Lam, Chung Foo and Ling Hee. They think the two who didn’t survive were called Lee Ling and Len Lam.
The six men’s names were all discovered on the same third-class ticket.
“The press at the time labelled the Chinese survivors, referred to in places as ‘celestials,’ as cowards who dressed as women to sneak into lifeboats,” Steven Schwankert, the film’s chief researcher and an American maritime historian, tells Quartz. “They had no basis for that, and we believe it’s just not true… it’s time for these men to have their rightful place in history.”… “We don’t accept the reports and the history as it is presented. The six Chinese men have been put into a position of injustice for more than a hundred years. We can finally tell their story rightly,”