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Research Seminars



Ghassan Moazzin
Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and Dept. of History, HKU Gold and Silver: German Bankers and the Financial Internationalisation of China, 1885-1919


3 Dec 2020 5:00 p.m.



During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, foreign banks were a major presence within the Chinese banking sector. They financed China’s rapidly growing foreign trade, issued their own currencies and provided loans to the Chinese government that allowed China to finance wars, fund industrialization projects and maintain political stability. However, these banks have previously either been neglected by the existing scholarship or simply viewed as another manifestation of Western imperialism. By following the history of the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank (DAB, Chinese: 德華銀行) – the main German bank active in China between the 1890s and the First World War – this research project aims to address this gap in the historiography. It explores how the interaction between German and other foreign bankers and Chinese officials, bankers and merchants led to the rapid internationalisation of Chinese state finance and the Chinese banking sector on the China coast. I argue that foreign banks were not simply another form of imperialism but acted as intermediary institutions that provided the financial infrastructure that made modern economic globalization in China possible.


Dr. Ghassan Moazzin is Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Department of History, HKU. He teaches the economic and business history of modern China. He was educated at the University of Cambridge, where he received both his B.A. (2012) and Ph.D. (2017). His doctoral dissertation won both the Coleman Prize of the Association of Business Historians and the Herman E. Krooss Prize of the Business History Conference. It was also a finalist for the Dissertation Prize (Category: The Long 19th Century) of the World Economic History Congress 2018.


Before coming to Hong Kong, he was a JSPS International Research Fellow at the Graduate School of Economics of the University of Tokyo. He has also been a visiting scholar at East China Normal University in Shanghai and the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica in Taipei.


All are welcome.