Hong Kong Takes Flight: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Global Hub

March 16, 2022 - 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
John Wong
Flyer with the image of John Wong

Commercial aviation took shape in Hong Kong as the city developed into a powerful economy. Rather than understanding air travel as an inevitable outcome of Hong Kong's arrival in the era of global mobility, John Wong, Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong, will argue in this talk that Hong Kong's development into a regional and global hub was not preordained. By underscoring the shifting process that produced the hub of Hong Kong, his study aims to describe globalization and global networks in the making. During the second wave of globalization, Hong Kong weathered the Cold War geopolitical shifts, the closing and subsequent reopening of the skyways over mainland China, and the economic liberalization of its major aerial connections to extend the reach of its commercial aviation network. Viewing the globalization of Hong Kong through the prism of its airline industry, this talk examines how policymakers and businesses in Hong Kong asserted themselves alongside their international partners and competitors in a bid to accrue socioeconomic benefits, negotiated their interests in the city's economic success, and articulated their expressions of modernity.

John's research focuses on the flow of people, goods, capital and ideas. With a particular interest in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta area, he explores how such flows connected the region to the Chinese political center in the north as well as their maritime partners in the South China Sea and beyond. Studying the China trade in the context of early-nineteenth-century global exchange, his first monograph, Global Trade in the Nineteenth Century: The House of Houqua and the Canton System (Cambridge University Press, 2016), demonstrates how China trade partners sustained their economic exchange on a global scale long before Western imperialism ushered in the era of globalization in a Eurocentric modern world.

Professor Prasenjit Duara, Oscar Tang Chair of East Asian Studies at Duke University will moderate the session.

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  • Duke University Center for International and Global Studies
  • Asian/Pacific Studies Institute
  • John Hope Franklin Center
  • Global Asia Initiative
  • Wednesdays at the Center Series