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TO NOVEMBER 22
Since the British handover of Hong Kong to mainland China has thus far been uneventful, this exhibit of maps, books, periodicals, and other documents isn’t too eerie, although it is stuffed with odd historical footnotes. (Who knew, for example, that Confederate hero John Singleton Mosby later served as U.S. consul in Hong Kong?) Echoing Hong Kong’s emphasis on business, in fact, the show has something of the feel of a corporate report, albeit one that’s candid about such past transgressions as opium dealing. The exhibit’s scale is modest, but this is the Library of Congress, so the documents are as historic as their subject matter. There is an original of the 1842 Treaty of Nanking ceding Hong Kong Island to Britain—”in perpetuity,” by the way—and an actual Chinese letter of protest about the British opium trade. As for the topographical map of the former colony, it was made by U.S. military intelligence in 1944 in preparation for an anti-Japanese offensive that never came. At the Library of Congress, James Madison Building, 1st & Independence Ave. SE. FREE. (202) 707-8000. (Mark Jenkins)