Many books have addressed the economic and financial history of Hong Kong, and the imperialist conflicts in the key Chinese port-cities but very few books have explored French initiatives and performance in this area, beyond diplomacy, geopolitics or cultural issues. In this book, Hubert Bonin confronts arguments about "the great divergence", "the first globalisation", and forms of "economic patriotism". He gauges the competitive edge of French companies and banks, their struggle with British domination (HBSC, Chartered, shipping, trade houses/hongs) and their resistance against competitors from other countries (Japan, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, USA, or Russia).
The book delves into studies of management abroad, therefore mixing broad geo-economic issues with precise business history and deep banking history. The connections between French interests in China and Hong Kong and the colony of Indochina are established too. A second part of the book is dedicated to the case study of Hong Kong, as the British colony acted as a hub for Asian and European interests at the heart of connections with mainland China and some neighbouring territories (Indochina, etc.).
This is essential reading for academics interested in banking and business history, the history of entrepreneurship, as well as, those involved in the contemporary history of China and Hong Kong, in the assessment of world-wide geo-economic competition between European powers in Asia (Great-Britain, and France), and in the first stages of economic "modernity", along European models, in emerging modern China.
Table of Contents
Part 1. Issues and challenges 1. The emergence of a French banking strategy in China 2. French overseas banking as an imperial system: A background for Asian developments 3. British hegemony in China in the years 1900-1930: Maritime dominance and banking power 4. China: a commercial target for France (1900-1914) 5. The French banks’ activities in the Pacific area of Asia (from the years 1860s to the years 1940s) 6. The Black Lotus: the fight against fraud and deception in the French concessions in China (1890s-1940s) Part 2. French banking in Hong Kong 7. French banking in Hong Kong (1860s-1930s): Challenging British banks? 8. The development of Banque de l’Indochine’s activities on the Hong Kong market 9. The relative success of Banque de l’Indochine on the Hong Kong niche 10. Crisis and ordeals 11. The Hong Kong place at a turning point: Banque de l’Indochine facing geo-economics (in the 1950s) 12. Banque de l’Indochine and Indosuez confronted to the change of business and banking cycle 13. The end of a business and banking cycle: French bankers stake-holders of a global metropolis
Hubert Bonin is a researcher in modern economic history at Sciences Po Bordeaux and at the Gretha research centre at Bordeaux University.