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Global Trade in the Nineteenth Century
The House of Houqua and the Canton System


  • Date Published: December 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316605011

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About the Authors
  • In this engaging new study, John D. Wong examines the Canton trade networks that helped to shape the modern world through the lens of the prominent Chinese merchant Houqua, whose trading network and financial connections stretched from China to India, America and Britain. In contrast to interpretations that see Chinese merchants in this era as victims of rising Western mercantilism and oppressive Chinese traditions, Houqua maintained a complex balance between his commercial interests and those of his Western counterparts, all in an era of transnationalism before the imposition of the Western world order. The success of Houqua and Co. in configuring its networks in the fluid context of the early nineteenth century remains instructive today, as the contemporary balance of political power renders the imposition of a West-centric world system increasingly problematic, and requires international traders to adapt to a new world order in which China, once again, occupies center stage.

    • Reshapes China's critical role in the formation of global networks of trade and finance before the Opium Wars
    • Draws on archival discoveries spanning the globe, including business records, family papers, personal correspondences, gazetteers, genealogies, government documents, travelogues, and anthologies of literary work
    • Demonstrates the success of the Chinese merchant Houqua and his trading partners in sustaining their economic exchange on a global scale
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'John D. Wong's superbly researched study of Houqua brings together a vast array of disparate sources that show clearly how this remarkable global trader effectively outwitted the prevailing commercial politics.' Paul A. Van Dyke, Sun Yat-sen University, China

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316605011
    • length: 259 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. A study of the structural context: the colliding worlds in Canton
    2. Lodging in an existing institution: taming the lion at home
    3. Weaving a trading network: breaking free with the eagle
    4. Sustaining trust: overcoming business uncertainties through time and space
    5. To reorganize or to be recognized? Reconstituting business in the reconfigured world of global business
    6. Houqua's 'Swiss account' in America: the legacy of a farsighted entrepreneur

  • Author

    John D. Wong, The University of Hong Kong
    John D. Wong's research interests focus on transnational business history. He received his Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. He also holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago and an M.B.A. from Stanford University, California. He worked for a number of years in investment banking and investment management and has earned the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst. In keeping with his research interests, his teaching centers on the transnational flow of culture, people and capital, with the Pearl River Delta as a major nexus.

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