On 6 July 6 1998, the last flight took off from Kai Tak International Airport, marking the end of an era for Hong Kong aviation. For decades, international flights flew over the roofs of Kowloon apartments, before landing on Kai Tak’s runway, extending out into the harbor. Kai Tak—frankly, a terrible place for one of the world’s busiest international airports—is a good symbol of the story of Hong Kong’s aviation, as told in Hong Kong Takes Flight: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Global Hub, 1930s–1998 by John D Wong.
Scholar and professor Joseph Sassoon was never interested in his family’s history until he received a letter ten years ago from another Joseph Sassoon. The name is not common and, sure enough, this other Joseph was a very distant relative who had come across an article by Professor Sassoon about authoritarian regimes. The two spoke on the phone, which sparked interest in the family and led to Professor Sassoon’s new book, The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire, a story of a refugee family that reinvented itself in India, China, and ultimately the United Kingdom, and one that sometimes takes on biblical dimensions.
In 1980, the Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman noted “It is somewhat ironic that Hong Kong, a Crown colony of Great Britain, should be the modern exemplar of free markets and limited government. The British officials who govern it have enabled Hong Kong to flourish by following policies radically at variance with the welfare state policies that have been adopted in the mother country.” That explanation serves well enough for Hong Kong’s manufacturers, but how to account for businesses more aligned with the state? Private airlines, for example, inevitably depend on public infrastructure. Moreover, the government’s ability to negotiate landing rights is inescapable when every flight is international by definition. Hong Kong Takes Flight, a new book by John Wong, explores how that city’s flagship carrier adapted and grew for decades amid explosive growth and turbulent politics.
Money does strange things to people, as Annah Lake Zhu notes in her latest book Rosewood: Endangered Species Conservation and the Rise of Global China.
If there’s a country that “punches above its weight”, it’s South Korea. It’s home to some of the world’s largest and most important companies, and the source of pop culture that dominates Asia—and even planted a foothold in the West.
China’s Pearl River Delta recently surpassed Tokyo as the world’s largest urban area. Amid that vast conurbation of over 60 million people stands the city of Zhongshan. The birthplace of Sun Yat-sen, Zhonghsan’s factories supply China’s middle class with consumer goods like lighting, furniture, and appliances. Looking east across the Indian Ocean, one finds Antalaha, a small harbor town on Madagascar’s eastern coast. Bordered by three national parks and without a paved road to the nation’s capital, Antalaha’s 67,000 inhabitants might seem remote. But thanks to a tree growing in those parks, Antalaha found itself fueling Zhongshan’s furniture industry. Annah Lake Zhu’s new book Rosewood: Endangered Species Conservation and The Rise of Global China, explores the consequences of this unexpected connection.
Filled with memorabilia, photos and interviews, Berlin-based artist, critic and writer Xiaowen Zhu’s bilingual book Oriental Silk documents a Chinese-American family’s migration story. Tracing Ken Wong’s family past and cultural journeys, from his parents’ childhoods in China to their eventual relocation to the US and ultimately a flourishing business, Zhu reveals the dreams, hopes and struggles of the migrants in the Chinese diaspora.