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Sino-French Trade at Canton, 1698-1842$
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Susan E. Schopp

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9789888528509

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888528509.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2022. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022

The French Hong: Daily Work Life and Operations

The French Hong: Daily Work Life and Operations

(p.95) 6 The French Hong: Daily Work Life and Operations
Sino-French Trade at Canton, 1698-1842

Susan E. Schopp

Hong Kong University Press

Chapter 6 examines the French hong as a workplace. The workload was busiest at the beginning and end of the trading season; in addition to involving selling, selecting, purchasing, and delivery of cargo, the trade generated an enormous volume of supporting documentation in the form of contracts, receipts, permissions, correspondence, etc. The life of the Chinese employees is underrepresented in the archival records, but excerpts from an individual’s 1789 diary provide a detailed personal glimpse into one trader’s daily activity. Among the challenges affecting staff performance were interpersonal rivalry and the difficulty of adjusting, or not, to a climate and culture that were significantly different from those of Europe. The French referred to their Canton commercial establishment as a comptoir, a term that could be applied to both the physical and the intangible entity, and over the decades, its administration assumed several different forms; staff composition and salaries likewise varied. However, there were times, especially during periods of warfare or national unrest, when there was no French representation at Canton.

Keywords:   French hongs, comptoir, traders’ daily life, job woes, hong administration, importance of a hong, national flags, French representation at Canton

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