China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: With the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the border between China and Hong Kong--once relatively open--hardened, becoming known in the Cold War era as the "bamboo curtain." Yet new documentary and oral sources reveal a far more variegated experience. Ordinary people at the border negotiated its boundaries as part of everyday life, individuals and officials made use of the border for economic and political gain, and refugees crossed the border during both low and high political tides, including famine and political chaos. This panel proposes a new history of China's Hong Kong border, situated in international context and grounded in everyday realities. He Bixiao introduces Hong Kong as a nexus in the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda strategy; the New Democracy Publishing Company had, since 1947, connected northeastern China, Hong Kong, and the diaspora via books and pamphlets. Focusing on Chinese refugees who went to Taiwan through Hong Kong and Macau, Angelina Chin charts the identities and changing political fortunes of refugees groomed as "anti-Communist Fighters" by the Kuomindang. Denise Ho examines the cross-border history of oyster producers in the bay between Hong Kong and China, showing how the border could be at once an opportunity, a threat, and a resource. Finally, Taomo Zhou demonstrates that as early as 1961, Bao'an County officials promoted individualized, duty-free trade with Hong Kong in an effort to create an enclave of exception to socialism, which formed the foundations of Shenzhen as a reform-era Special Economic Zone.
Paper Presenter: Bixiao He – Sun Yat-Sen University
Paper Presenter: Angelina Y. Chin – Pomona College
Paper Presenter: Denise Y. Ho – Yale University
Paper Presenter: Taomo Zhou – Nanyang Technological University