Abstract: Comparative Analysis of the Culture of Financial Business in China in the Early Twentieth Century: The British and Japanese Experiences

Miriam Kaminishi

Abstract

The aim of this essay is to analyze the business behavior of two main international financial institutions (the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation[HSBC] and the Yokohama Specie Bank [YSB]) in two cities in China: Shanghai and Dalian. China, especially the coastal cities, experienced remarkable commercial and financial development with the opening of ports to international trade from the second half of the nineteenth century. Since then, the wave of internationalization reached Asia and a strong inter-relationship among foreign and local companies, as well as governments began. Some of the major coastal cities in China, like Shanghai and Dalian, were influenced by traditional practices of local commercial and financial culture (such as the adoption of a monetary system with multiple currencies based on silver and copper) and at the same time influenced by practices of countries of the capitalist system (which adopted the gold standard). These two cities seem to be part of one business culture but each developed its own practice—on the one hand, Shanghai with a strong British influence, and on the other hand Dalian under the Japanese presence. Shanghai was a region that witnessed development and expansion of international trade, while the main economic activity of the region of Dalian was agriculture. Thus the questions to be answered in this essay are: how did the international financial institutions adapt to local market practices (business culture) in different regions of China? What was the business orientation of these institutions that were also responsible for the management of their respective imperial government accounts?