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Modern China Lecture featuring Philip Thai – Communist China’s Capitalist Front: The China Resources Company in Cold War Hong Kong

October 11, 2022 @ 4:00 pm 5:30 pm

Speaker: Philip Thai, Northeastern University

The China Resources Company is a Hong Kong-based, Chinese state-owned conglomerate with diverse businesses interests in real estate, retail, pharmaceuticals, energy, and other industries. Today, it is one of the largest corporations in the world and currently ranked no. 70 on the Fortune Global 500. During the Cold War, China Resources operated as a front company advancing the economic and geopolitical interests of the People’s Republic. Most importantly, it served as the primary commercial intermediary between China and Hong Kong, supplying the British colony with food, petroleum, and other essential supplies for decades before and after “Reform and Opening.” This talk will trace the development of the company and explore its role in circumventing international embargoes, promoting foreign trade, and operating in Hong Kong. It will consider how the history of China Resources could address critical questions in the history of Hong Kong and the Cold War more generally.

Philip Thai is Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies at Northeastern University. A historian of Modern China and East Asia, he has research and teaching interests that include legal history, economic history, and diplomatic history. He is the author of China’s War on Smuggling: Law, Economic Life, and the Making of the Modern State and the forthcoming Diplomatic History journal article, “Hong Kong in the U.S.-UK War on Drugs, 1970–1980”. During the 2022-23 academic year, Professor Thai will be in residence at Harvard Radcliffe Institute as an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Frederick Burkhardt Fellow working on his new project, a history of underground economies across “Greater China” during the Cold War.

This event is also available on Zoom. Register at: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_lflaHpU3QsScF0HGYvNxvA


October 11, 2022
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies


CGIS Knafel K262

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States

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