The Hongs

The Hongs

The Hongs (Chinese: 行) were major business houses in Hong Kong with significant influence on patterns of consumerism, trades, manufacturing and other key areas of the economy.


Prior to the establishment of Hong Kong, the name "Hong" was given to major business houses under the Chinese word . The Thirteen Factories are the original merchants in China under the Qing government.

Historically, the factories faded before they had any direct effect on Hong Kong's economic birth. Hong Kong generally begin counting the Hongs from the first generation of western or foreign companies, since they provided direct financial backings during the Colonial Hong Kong era.

Jardine Matheson had a Shanghai headquarters on the Bund, just south of the British Consulate. The headquarter was called "the Ewo Hong", or "Ewo House", after the Cantonese pronunciation of the company's Chinese name (怡和, yi wo). [Tales of Old Shanghai. " [] ." "The Hongs." Retrieved on 2007-03-29.] However, this is likely not the original source of the name, since the British have documented the term "Hong" during the times of the Thirteen Factories.

The term is most often used in reference to Colonial Hong Kong companies directly. In modern day sense, the term is loosely used to describe influential companies.


Prior to any banking institutions, besides small foreign bank branches, the three firms that financed most of Hong Kong's economic activities were the Jardine's, Dent's and the Russell's.Sunzi1. " [ Sunzi1] ." "Hong Kong Hongs with Long Histories and British Connections." Retrieved on 2007-03-29.] Hence, most sources credit them as the original three.

The Hongs began during China's Qing dynasty, and grew in influence and power as Hong Kong separated from Imperial China in the early 19th Century. The original entities were mostly founded by westerners, namely British settlers within the Colonial Hong Kong community. The head of companies were referred to as tai-pans.

Most firms became true multinational corporations, and management consisted mostly of European expatriates.Genzberger, Christine A. [1994] (1994) Hong Kong Business: The Portable Encyclopedia for Doing Business with Hong Kong. ISBN 0963186477]

By 1997 many of the hongs had diversified their holdings and shifted their headquarters offshore away from Hong Kong to avoid any potential communist party takeovers.

Conglomerates of colonial Hong Kong

Note: "Below are lists of companies that had a predominant effect on Hong Kong's economy at a particular era. Notability are up for debate. Official names of the era are used."


* 12 large British firms
* 10 small British merchants
* 6 Indian Parsee companies
* 1 American company


* Jardine Matheson
* Dent & Co.
* Russell & Co - US company founded by William Russell for the Opium trade; merged with Perkins of Boston in 1830


* Wheelock Marden 1857


* Gilman and Bowman - established by Richard James Gilman as a tea trader in 1840; taken over by Duncan Patterson of Australia 1917 and became a privately held company; now part of Inchcape Group (1958)
* Hong Kong and China Gas Company


* Butterfield and Swire
* Jardine Matheson
* Adamson Bell and Company / Dodwell - George Benjamin Dodwell
* Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Company
* Hong Kong and China Gas Company


* Jardine Matheson
* Russell & Co.
* Swire


* Hongkong Electric
* Hong Kong Land - Catchick Paul Chater, James Johnstone Keswick
* Gibb Livingston - Thomas Augustus Gibb, William Potter Livingston


* Dairy Farm Ice and Cold Storage Company Limited - Dr Patrick Manson

Conglomerates of modern Hong Kong


* Butterfield and Swire
* Hutchison - John Douglas Clague


* The Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company
* Jardine Matheson


* The Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company
* Jardine Matheson
* Swire Group - John Henry Bremridge
* Hutchison - Li Ka-shing
* Wheelock Marden - John L Marden; Yue-Kong Pao 1985


* Jardine Matheson
* Hutchison Whampoa - Li Ka-shing
* Wheelock Marden (now Wheelock & Co) - Peter Woo
* Swire Group


The old British hongs continue to operate in Hong Kong after 1997, but a few are now held by local Hong Kong Chinese businessmen.

* Jardine Matheson Holdings HQ in Hong Kong and incorporated in Bermuda
** Hongkong Land
** Dairy Farm International Holdings

* Hutchison Whampoa - Li Ka-shing
** Hongkong Electric

* Wheelock Marden
* Swire Group - HQ in both Hong Kong and London, England
* The Wharf (Holdings)
* Henderson Land Development - Lee Shau Kee
** The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited

Since the 1980s, a number of local Chinese and mainland Chinese firms have challenged the control of the Hong Kong economy previously held by the British hongs:

* CITIC Pacific - Larry Yung Chi Kin
* PCCW - Richard Li
* New World Development (1970) - Cheng Yu-tung
* China Resources (1938 as Liow & Company)
* Li & Fung (1906)
* COSCO - owned by the government of the People's Republic of China
* Sino Group
* Sun Hung Kai (1969)
* Cheung Kong Holdings (1950s) - Li Ka-shing

ee also

* Zaibatsu
* Chaebol
* Keiretsu
* The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
* Hang Seng Index


External links

* [ Chinese Export Silver / China Trade Silver]
* [ China Trade Silver Makers and Marks]
* [ Old China Trade]

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