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Jardine Matheson: Traders of the Far East

ISBN: 9780297825012
Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: 1999-09
Number of pages: 286
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  • Regular price $66.53

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Jardine Matheson & Co, founded in Canton on 1 July, 1832, has had a longer continuous existence than any other British, European or American business connected with the China trade. It is the only firm surviving from pre-Treaty days (before the Treaty of Nanking which opened China to foreign commerce in 1842) and it played a very important part in that process. The firm soon after moved to the newly ceded colony of Hong Kong, and ever since the firm has been associated with the island. 'Jardines is Hong Kong' someone once asserted to Lord Blake - an exaggeration, of course, but pardonable. And although Hong Kong has reverted to Chinese sovereignty, Jardine Matheson is likely to remain a major feature of the place and may well play a renewed role in mainland China far into the twenty-first century. Lord Blake traces the early beginnings of the firm, from William Jardine's first glimpse of Canton in 1802, through the rapid expansion and growth of the nineteenth century and into the next, leaving the story exactly half-way through the twentieth century, just as the Korean War breaks out. The early history of the firm has always been regarded as the most interesting part of the story. It, or its background, has been the subject of two fascinating historical novels: the late James Clavell's bestselling blockbuster Tia-pan (1966) and Timothy Mo's aclaimed An Insular Possession (1986). The real story is equally exciting in the hands of one of the most distinguished historians of the twentieth century.

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