Peter Buck
George Cautherley
Steven Conn
Louise Edwards
Staci Ford
John Haddad
Vincent Ho
Sibing He
Kendall Johnson
Marjorie King
Selina Lai
Aili Li
Qing Liu
Jianping Ni
Robert Nield
Stefani Pfeiffer
Cole Roskam
Eileen Scully
John Wong
Elsha Yiu

Mr. John Wong
Ph.D. Candidate in History, Harvard University; Fulbright Scholar, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Paper Title:
A Chinese ‘Swiss Account’ in 19th-Century America: The Enduring Ties between Houqua and his Sino-American Trading Partner.

John Wong is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at Harvard University. He received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago, and he also holds an M.B.A. from Stanford. Before enrolling at Harvard, John worked for a number of years in investment banking and investment management. His main research interest is in the area of transnational business history. He is currently a Fulbright Scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong conducting research on the China trade in the nineteenth century.

Among the Chinese Hong merchants, Wu Bingjian (1769-1843), known to the West by his trading name Houqua, During the outbreak of the Opium War, what began as Houqua’s regular shipment of consigned goods to his partners in the United States turned into his allocation of assets for investment in America which was to be shielded from the tumultuous conditions in Canton. Entrusted with some one million dollars worth of cargo, Cushing and the Forbes demonstrated to Houqua their credit during the period of uncertainty as lines of communications were compromised during the military conflicts and long voyages around the world compounded the anxiety. The ties between Houqua and the American triumvirate that came to be reinforced during the Opium War, along with the respectable performance of the American partners, in particular, John Murray Forbes, transacted the largest volume of trade with Americans who were the last of the Western traders to arrive at the port of Canton. Houqua had traded with many American merchants but his closest allies were John Perkins Cushing (1787-1862) and his cousins, John Murray Forbes (1813-1898) and Robert “Bennet” Forbes (1804-1889), all of whom worked successively alongside Houqua in Canton from the 1810s through the outbreak of Opium War in 1840. In order to circumvent the increasing power of the British traders in Canton, Houqua partnered with these handpicked American allies. He shipped from Canton to America cargoes, comprising mostly tea, as consignment to these American partners who had returned home from Canton, first to Cushing, then to John and Bennet...