Research Clusters



      • John D. Wong (Associate Professor, HKIHSS and School of Modern Languages and Cultures)
      • Ghassan Moazzin (Assistant Professor, HKIHSS and School of Humanities)

      Core members

      Main Theme

      The Chinese Business History cluster explores the historical development of Chinese business. The cluster's goal is to build a global network of collaborators from academia and beyond to strengthen and develop the field of Chinese business history and, in the long term, bring it up to par with the study of business history in the West in terms of breadth and depth. The cluster is running the Chinese Business History Webinar series, which has become the premier global platform for the presentation and discussion of cutting-edge research in Chinese business history. It is also planning and organising several other workshops and other academic and public events.

      The cluster primarily works across four different sub-groups. The first sub-group, Chinese Business Institutions and Economic Growth, traces the historical development of Chinese business enterprise with a focus on the period since 1800 and explores the role of these enterprises in Chinese economic development. The second sub-group, Multinational Companies, China and the Global Economy, investigates the role foreign companies have played in Chinese economic development and China’s connections to the global economy. The third sub-group, Legal Frameworks, traces the historical development of the legal environment Chinese business enterprises developed in over the past two centuries. Finally, the fourth sub-group, Family Business History and the Historical Development of Chinese Enterprise, explores the central role family businesses have played and are still playing in the development of Chinese business enterprise and the Chinese economy more broadly.


      Recent Publications

      John D. Wong. “‘Made in Hong Kong’: Deriving value from the place-of-origin label, 1950s and now,” Modern Asian Studies 57:3 (2023):  895–917.

      John D. Wong. “The Ongoing Business of Chinese Language Reform: A View from the Periphery of Hong Kong in the Last Half Century,” Modern China 49:4 (2023):  448–479 (with co-author Andrew D. Wong).

      John D. Wong. “Hong Kong Breaking into the International League:  Cathay Pacific’s Extension to Long-Haul Routes,” International Journal of Asian Studies 20:1 (2023): 137–156.

      Ghassan Moazzin. “Electric Pioneers: Nationalist Lobbying, Technology Transfer, and the Origins of the Chinese Electric Lamp Industry, 1921 – 1937.” Enterprise & Society (First View, 12 December 2022), pp. 1-35.

      John D. Wong. Hong Kong Takes Flight: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Global Hub, 1930s – 1998.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2022.

      Ghassan Moazzin. Foreign Banks and Global Finance in Modern China: Banking on the Chinese Frontier, 1870-1919. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022.

      John D. Wong. “Flexible Corporate Nationality:  Transforming Cathay Pacific for the Shifting Geopolitics of Hong Kong in the Closing Decades of British Colonial Rule,” Enterprise & Society 23:2 (2022):445–77. 

      Billy So and Sufumi So. “Song China: The First Modern Economy?” In Scott C. Levi ed. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022.04

      John D. Wong. “Making Vitasoy ‘Local’ in Post-WWII Hong Kong:  Traditionalizing Modernity, Engineering Progress, Nurturing Aspirations,” Business History Review 95:2 (2021): 275–300.

      Billy So and Sufumi So. “Law and the Market Economy.” In Ma Debin and Richard von Glenn eds., Cambridge Economic History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021, pp.419-447.

      Ghassan Moazzin. “Investing in the New Republic: Multinational Banks, Political Risk, and the Chinese Revolution of 1911.” Business History Review 94, No. 3 (2020), pp. 507-534.

      Ghassan Moazzin. “Sino-Foreign Business Networks: Foreign and Chinese Banks in the Chinese Banking Sector, 1890 – 1911.” Modern Asian Studies 54, No. 3 (2020), pp. 970-1004.


      The Chinese Business History Cluster is currently also working on a special issue titled “The Global Economy and the Origins of Modern Chinese Business”. The special issue is forthcoming in the journal Business History. So far, the following articles from the special issue have been published:

      Hamilton, Peter E. “Management Thought and Practice in 1920s China.” Business History, (2024), 1–21. doi:10.1080/00076791.2024.2326170.

      Ren Jian. “Beyond Revolutions: Mao-Era China’s Market Entry Strategies in Latin America.” Business History, (2024), 1–15. doi:10.1080/00076791.2024.2348013.

      Kelson, Bill. “Manias, Panics, & Land: The Property Bubbles of the Great Chinese Crash of the 1880s.” Business History, (2024), 1–26. doi:10.1080/00076791.2024.2340619.

      Brasó Broggi, Carles. “The Rise of Hong Kong’s Textile Industry, 1945–1974: The Role of the Hong Kong Spinners Association (HKSA).” Business History, (2024), 1–19. doi:10.1080/00076791.2024.2346535.


      Chinese Business History Webinar (selected talks are available on our Youtube page)

      Fall Program 2023:

      22 September 2023: Professor Parks Coble (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) - The Collapse of Nationalist China: How Chiang Kai-shek Lost China's Civil War

      6 October 2023: Professor Christopher Marquis (University of Cambridge) - Mao and Markets: The Communist Roots of Chinese Enterprise

      17 November 2023: Dr. Matthew Lowenstein (Stanford University) - New Perspectives on the Qing: Using Popular Sources, Data Analysis, and Accounting to Reconstruct Traditional Economic Practices

      24 November 2023: Professor Elizabeth Sinn (The University of Hong Kong) - The On Tai Marine Insurance Company (1877-1899): The First Chinese-Owned and Operated Insurance Company in Hong Kong