Hubert Bonin will deliver speeches at the Sun Yat Tsen University in Guangzhou, for the second time (the first on in November 2018).
1. Guangzhu as a hub for French-Chinese trade and banking houses in the 1890s-1940s
Despite the predominant role of the Hong Kong port-city as a key trade, maritime and banking place, succeeded in asserting some competitiveness and an array of capabilities from the turn of the twentieh century. Its “ancient” economy, that of the hongs, as show at its dedicated museum, jumped into “modern” schemes of development. The embeddedness of its indigenous trade houses and the establishment and development of foreign trade and banking companies fostered not only growth, but also new structures (port equipment, maritime connections, local capitalist basis, banking practices) and moreover new mindsets, based on a search for more and more relevant competitiveness with foreign stakeholders.
A leverage force was found out in regional networks to collect commodities and to spread imported consuming and equipment goods. Networking and more acute portfolio of skills, among local or foreigners actors of the place, helped building a more and more solid stronghold, able to resist recessions, civil wars, and speculative habits. Case studies about French trade houses and banks will fuel some business history in the speech.
2. Entrepreneurial spirit among Chinese businessmen in Guangdong in the 1890s-1950s: Roots of capitalist mindsets and practices
The present strategic schemes of the Chinese Authorities to conceive and achieve a structured and diversified growth for twenty-first century China often rely on emerging entrepreneurial spirit and economic patriotism. Of course no lessons from the past can ever be drawned up, all the more because three wars (Japan-China, WWII, ultimate civil war) rubbed off the heritage of decades of growth and emerging capitalism. But path of comparisons can be anyway followed.
The role of native businessmen as bosses of trade houses used as relays for foreign traders has to be precised, as the action of the famous “compradores”, who provided the framework for the development of foreign bankers in Guangzhou port-city, all the more because such intermediaries were themselves managing their own business and networks. Such dual action could not but rely on the interlocking of managing, strategic, financial, initiatives, finally mixing entrepreneurial practices.
The culture of capitalism got therefore roots, which could be perceived as an anticipation of the present developments. Just remind that in their time (the 19701s-1980s) French historian Marie-Claire Bergère and Lucien Bianco had been seriously questioned because they asserted such topics, before François Gipouloux brought fresh material about such arguments [François Gipouloux, La Méditerranée asiatique. Villes portuaires et réseaux marchands en Chine, Japon et en Asie du Sud-Est, XVIe-XXIe siècles, Paris, CNRS Éditions, 2009. François Gipouloux, The Asian Mediterranean: Port Cities and Trading Networks in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, 13th-21st Century, Cheltenham, Elgar, 2011].