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Work-in-Progress Workshop in Hong Kong Studies 2023 #5

Workshop 2023 #5

Date & Time: May 19, 2023, 11:00-12:00 HKT

Format: Virtually via Zoom

Provisional Title: Hong Kong in the Global Cold War: Smuggling and Cooperation During Korean War 1951-1953

Presenter: Ka Shing So, Binghamton University

Discussant: John Carroll, Professor of History and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong


Research on East Asian Cold War history has gained momentum in the last decade due to the methodology of global history. Instead of putting East Asia into U.S.-Soviet or capitalist-communist camps division, scholar argues East Asia countries or cities should be an individual unit to put under a globalized Cold War. This proposed research paper attempts to analyze how different forces cooperated and adjusted through the smuggling patterns in Hong Kong during Korean War (1951-1953).

Smuggling through Hong Kong operated timely in response to the Korean War embargo. Fishermen, traders, chambers, and British colonial bureaucracy participated in the smuggling and used Macau as a shadow zone to break through the embargo. This argument is challenging the simplistic picture of Hong Kong being the Berlin of the East during the Cold War. Hong Kong was more than a subordinate participant that followed the Anglo-American order. Studying the history of Cold War Hong Kong should not be divided merely by colonialism or nationalism, but to put under a globalized Cold War context. The smuggling patterns further reflected the status of Hong Kong was being on multiple edges on British Empire, the American East Asia Cold War order, and the border of China in the early Cold War. These edges were shaped by the complex geo-politics. Cold War cities should not be understood in a bipolar theoretical framework in Cold War, instead, to put in a wider globalized structure to understand these overlap interests and confrontations between powers.

Keywords: East Asian Cold War history, smuggling patterns in Hong Kong, Korean War

Project type: research paper

Ka Shing So, Binghamton University
Date & Time
19 May 2023 at 11:00 HKT