Sino-US Relations: A Historical Perspective from the Pearl River Delta

China and the United States, two of the world’s powers today, have negotiated and maintained their complex bilateral relationships since the nineteenth century. Focusing on the Pearl River Delta (now being rebranded as the Greater Bay Area), this talk examines the criticality of the region in shaping Sino-US relations at two pivotal junctures of global developments. Traders from the newly independent United States arrived in Canton (Guangzhou) at the turn of the nineteenth century, initiating US relations with China under the control of the Qing court. Two centuries later, Hong Kong had navigated the tumultuous decades of Cold War tension as well as China’s subsequent re-engagement and rise on the world stage to grow into a nexus of Sino-US connections. By calling attention to these specific nodes of exchange in the region, this talk explores the process of globalization and global networks in the making.

John D. Wong is Associate Professor at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on the flow of people, goods, capital and ideas. With a particular interest in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta/Greater Bay Area, he explores how such flows connected the region to the Chinese political centre in the north as well as their maritime partners in the South China Sea and beyond.