Chinese Tong as British Trust: Institutional Collisions and Legal Disputes in Urban Hong Kong, 1860s–1980s1

By the nineteenth century, with the advance of British colonial activities, British corporate laws had been transplanted to maritime Asia with varying degrees of vigour. In British Hong Kong, these laws often clashed with native customs. Through a reconstruction of the legal disputes found in urban Hong Kong, this paper discusses how British and Chinese business traditions interacted with each other during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Before assessing the historical implications and consequences of these legal decisions, this paper will also explore whether the Chinese institution of tong is compatible with British law in urban Hong Kong.