Professor Ho Hon-wai received his BA and MPhil from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and completed his doctorate at Australian National University. He serves as an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica. He has also held the positions of Deputy Director at the Institute of History and Philology and Principal Lecturer at the Open University of Hong Kong. His main research interest is the economic history of modern China. His major publications include Early History of Jing-Han Railway (1979), Northern Chinese Famine of 1876–1879 (1980) and many journal articles.
The CUHK–Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Asia-Pacific Centre for Chinese Studies was glad to invite Professor Ho Hon-wai to deliver a public lecture on 11 April 2016. Professor Ho shared his recent research article, "The Development of Territorial Monetary System in Colonial Hong Kong: An Analysis of the Struggle over Silver Subsidiary Coins (1883-1919)", published in the Bulletin of Institute of History and Philology (Volume 86, 2015/03/01, pp. 97-227). Its abstract is reproduced below:
Out of a keen desire to consolidate national sovereignty, governments have established an unprecedented control over the issuance and management of money from the nineteenth century onward; the epoch of territorial money characterised by a single currency within one country has ultimately arrived, and a fundamental change in the spatial distribution of currency has taken place. Historic experience shows that the creation of new territorial money is not an easy task; governments must make herculean and consistent efforts to restrict the free circulation of foreign currencies within their territories before they can overwhelm the long and deep-rooted tradition, and finally institutionalise a firm grip over the domestic monetary order. The seventy years of monetary developments in Hong Kong serve as a concrete example. Most of the previous case works on Hong Kong's monetary history tended to forgo much elaboration on the subject of fractional or subsidiary currency. The only exception was that much attention was given to the boycott on the Hong Kong tramway from 1912 to 1913, when the Hong Kong Tramway Company refused to accept subsidiary coins issued by the Guangdong authorities as payment for fares. In practice, during the late Qing and early Republican period, subsidiary coins were a major mean of payment for the daily transaction of the toiling masses, and their economic importance was no less than that of taels or dollars. Nevertheless, previous scholarly works on the monetary system placed much emphasis on taels or dollars at the expense of the subsidiary coins. This article intends to deal with events in chronological sequence, drawing reference from diplomatic archives from the British foreign office, colonial office records, parliamentary documents, sessional papers and Hansard from the Hong Kong Legislative Council, Government Gazette, and Chinese and foreign newspapers in Hong Kong, as well as fruits of relevant scholarly research. The author tries to unearth historic facts that have escaped the attention they deserve. Focusing on the struggle between the Hong Kong- and Guangdong-made silver subsidiary coins, this article also explores the intricacies between government authorities of Hong Kong and Guangdong, Great Britain and China, Hong Kong and Great Britain, as well as Beijing and Guangdong; the relationships between government authorities and merchants and among merchants themselves in Hong Kong are also meticulously discussed. In short, this article seeks to deepen our understanding on the monetary relations between Hong Kong and Guangdong at the turn of the twentieth century.