Vaudine England’s new book is called ‘Arnholds: China Trader’ and is a forensic account of early trading along the China coast and life in bygone treaty ports. It is particularly interesting today since China’s determination to become a mighty political and military power under President Xi Jinping is accompanied by a drumbeat of resentment about its 19th-century defeats.
The late Qing dynasty(1644-1911) saw China crippled by corruption. Taking advantage of the situation, foreign powers used their military strength to win the right to import and export through China’streaty ports – as well as the European colonies of Hong Kong and Macau – and to set up trading posts replete with the sporting clubs, Masonic lodges and amateur dramatic societies.
Arnhold was established in 1866 when pioneering European traders, Jacob Arnhold and Peter Karberg set up a small trading company on Shameen Island, Guangzhou. The following year they opened an office in Hong Kong and in 1881 established their headquarters in Shanghai, heralding the beginning of a strong business presence in Hong Kong and throughout China.
By the turn of the century, 37 offices were in operation in China with buying offices in London, Manchester, Berlin and New York. Controlling interest in Arnhold passed to the powerful Sassoon Group in the 1930s and the business flourished until 1949 when, with the change of Government in China, the headquarters relocated to Hong Kong. Maurice Green, who had been associated with the company since the Sassoon takeover, acquired the controlling interest in Arnhold in 1957.
Vaudine England has worked for many years in journalism in Hong Kong and across South East Asia, for various newspapers, the BBC, and the Far Eastern Economic Review. She now concentrates on in-depth research and writing of Hong Kong history, and its links to SE Asia. Her first book was The Quest of Noel Croucher,Hong Kong’s Quiet Philanthropist, published by Hong Kong University Press in1998. Since then she has engaged in several institutional histories and is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol's Hong Kong History Project. In 2017, RASmembers were fortunate to hear her lecture on her book ‘Kindred Spirits- the Historyof the Hong Kong Club’.
6:00 pm – Reception & Drinks start
6:30 pm – Lecture starts
7:30 pm – Q&A with Vaudine England
Admission: RAS Members, Non-Members & Guests $150
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