Historian Fion Wai-ling So has researched a number of subjects in fields including economic and business history, political economy, international relations and development studies. She has a doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London on the topic of “Navigating Protectionism: Diederichsen, Jebsen & Company in German Qingdao and the world, 1898-1908”. She is currently developing new interests in finance and economic statecraft. She did her BA at the University of Hong Kong and a Masters in Comparative and Public History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is a senior teaching fellow at SOAS.
By 1919, the First World War had ended, and this was followed by peace negotiations which resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. In China, the stipulations of this treaty (i.e. to concede German economic rights in the province of Shandong to Japan), triggered the May-Fourth Movement, an anti-imperialist student movement in Beijing.
This talk will focus on the pre-WWI history of Shandong, from 1898 to 1914, which preceded this event. In contrast to the existing historiography covering foreign economic imperialism in China, an alternate interpretation will be presented to demonstrate how the German presence and influence in Shandong conformed to, and integrated with, the existing Chinese governmental and administrative order of that time. Despite occasional misguided tactics in the conduct of economic statecraft, which resulted in temporary trade disruptions and boycotts, German methods in the province were largely effective in promoting peaceful relations and prosperity.
Fitting the Qingdao and Shandong economies into East Asian and global trading patterns, this talk will then examine the rise of tensions between major European trading powers within an era of competing free trade and protectionist systems. Marking the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the talk will conclude by highlighting some of the similarities that exist between the Shandong story and the current trade war situation.
Admission to lecture : £8 per member or £12 guest, to include refreshments
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