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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 argues 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 recently released monograph aims to describe globalization and global networks in the making. 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.
An associate professor at the University of Hong Kong, John Wong 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. In his recently released book, Hong Kong Takes Flight: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Global Hub, 1930s - 1998 (Harvard, 2022), John explores the development of the airline industry in Hong Kong after WWII. His recent publications have appeared in business history journals such as Business History Review and Enterprise & Society, as well as journals with a focus on area studies such as the Journal of Asian Studies and Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. In 2022, John joined the editorial board of Business History. He has recently launched with the Hong Kong University Press a new book series Asian Business History for which he serves as an editor. John received his BA (Hons) in Economics from the University of Chicago, MBA from Stanford University, and PhD in History from Harvard University. He worked for a number of years in finance and holds the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).