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Work-in-Progress Workshop in Hong Kong Studies 2024 #3

Workshop 2024 #3

Date & Time: March 22, 2024, 5:00 PM -6:30 PM HKT

Format: Virtually via Zoom

Discussant: Dr. Florence Mok, Assistant Professor, Nanyang Technological University

Title: The unlikely success story of Cha Textiles Limited in West Africa: A Hong Kong perspective on African print fabrics

Presenter: Dr. Johanna von Pezold, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam

Project type: This paper is based on research that has been funded by the Centre for Heritage, Arts and and Textiles (CHAT), Hong Kong, and is currently in preparation for submission to academic journals.


Inspired by Indonesian batik, first introduced to West Africa by local soldiers returning from colonial wars, commercialised by Dutch and British manufacturers, designed by Europeans, adopted and loved by Africans all over the continent, and recently taken over by cheap mainland Chinese producers, African print fabrics are inherently global and culturally hybrid textiles. One chapter of the transnational history of African print fabrics, however, has not been told yet: the story of Hong Kong Chinese entrepreneurs who came to West Africa in the 1960s, helped newly independent African nations such as Ghana and Nigeria to establish their local textile industries, and ended up creating iconic and partly still-existing Made-in-Africa fabric brands.

Drawing on participatory observation, interviews, and archival research in Ghana, Hong Kong, and the UK, this paper looks at one Hong Kong textile company specifically, Cha Textiles Limited. Tracing its rise from a small Hong Kong dyeing workshop to the largest private sector employer in West Africa accounting for 80% of the West African wax print output in the late 1970s, this paper shows that Cha Textile’s success was based on innovation, continuous training and education, good timing, personal relationships, and a deep and honest openness for and interest in different people and cultures. By appreciating and combining cultural knowledge and technical know-how from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Switzerland, the UK, Ghana and Nigeria amongst other places, the company was able to produce textiles that were perceived as truly African and could win over West African consumers.

Textile industry, Hong Kong history, African print fabrics, Ghana, Hong Kong-Africa relations

Title: Challenge of Northbound Colonialism: The Impact of Hong Kong-Mainland Co-Productions on Hong Kong Culture and China’s Soft Power​

Presenter: Shiyi Zhao, University of Hong Kong

Project type: Journal article


The topic of Northward Colonialism was extensively discussed by scholars, such as Law Wing Sang, Ip Lam Chong, as well as Hung Ho Fung and so on, in the 1990s. It denotes an unimposed cultural and political influence of Hong Kong on mainland China, suggesting that Hong Kong’s culture might be reflected in the commercial symbols of mainland cities. However, the prevalence of Hong Kong-Mainland co-productions following the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) not only challenges this theory but also results in the Mainlandization of Hong Kong cinema. In response to this phenomenon, scholar Chu Yiu Wai argued that Hong Kong culture had already changed its own culture before it ‘went north’ to colonise Chinese culture. Therefore, this paper continues the discourse, utilizing cultural studies as the primary methodology to analyze the Northbound Colonialism theory in the context of the Hong Kong and Mainland film industry. It explores how the film industry development challenges Northbound Colonialism, focusing on Main Melody Films created by Hong Kong directors who ventured north in recent years, such as Andrew Lau’s The Captain and Dante Lam’s Operation Red Sea. Furthermore, the success of image portrayal of China in Main Melody Films directed by Hong Kong filmmakers prompts a discussion on whether the process of Northbound Colonialism contributes to enhancing China’s soft power. The analysis extends to assess whether these cinematic endeavors have played a role in China’s soft power enhancement.

Northward Colonialism, Co-Production, CEPA, Film Industry, Hong Kong Cinema, Mainlandization, Patriotic Film​

Dr. Johanna von Pezold, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam & Shiyi Zhao, University of Hong Kong
Date & Time
March 22, 2024, 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM HKT