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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Traditional Chinese買辦
Simplified Chinese买办
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese江擺渡
Simplified Chinese江摆渡
Second alternative Chinese name

A comprador or compradore (English: /kɒmprəˈdɔːr/) is a "person who acts as an agent for foreign organizations engaged in investment, trade, or economic or political exploitation".[1] An example of a comprador would be a native manager for a European business house in East and South East Asia, and, by extension, social groups that play broadly similar roles in other parts of the world.

Etymology and usage[edit]

The term comprador, a Portuguese word that means buyer, derives from the Latin comparare, which means to procure.[2] The original usage of the word in East Asia referred to a native servant in European households in Guangzhou in southern China or in the neighboring Portuguese colony at Macao - such persons went to market to barter their employers' wares.[2][3] The term then evolved to mean the native contract-suppliers who worked for foreign companies in East Asia or the native managers of firms in East Asia.[2][3] Compradors held important positions in southern China - buying and selling tea, silk, cotton and yarn for foreign corporations and working in foreign-owned banks.[3] Robert Hotung (1862-1956), who worked in the late-nineteenth century as a comprador of the trading conglomerate Jardine, Matheson & Co., allegedly became the richest man in Hong Kong by the age of 35.[4][page needed] The Hong Kong firm of Li & Fung, founded in 1906, partly functioned as a Canton comprador in its early stages.[citation needed]

Marxist theoreticians in the 20th century applied the term comprador bourgeoisie to similar trading-classes in regions outside East Asia.[5][6][7][8]

With the emergence or the re-emergence of globalization, the term "comprador" has reentered the lexicon to denote trading groups and classes in the developing world in subordinate but mutually-advantageous relationships with metropolitan capital. The Egyptian Marxist Samir Amin (1931–2018) discussed the role of compradors in the contemporary global economy in his work.[9] In addition, the Indian economist Ashok Mitra (1928–2018) labelled the owners and managers of firms attached to the Indian software industry as compradors.[10] Growing identification of the software industry in India with comprador "qualities" has led to the labeling of certain persons associated with the industry as "dot.compradors".[11][12][failed verification]

Marxist terminology counterposes a comprador bourgeoisie, perceived as the serving the interests of foreign imperial powers, to a national bourgeoisie, which is considered as opposing foreign imperialism and promoting the independence of its own country and, as such, could be, under some circumstances, a short-term ally of socialist revolutionaries.

Mikhail Delyagin has characterised the 21st-century Russian state as in itself a comprador in a system of comprador capitalism.[13]

Notable compradors[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "comprador". oxforddictionaries.com. OXford University Press. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Comprador" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 813.
  3. ^ a b c Bergere, Marie-Clarie (1989). The Golden Age of the Chinese Bourgeoisie 1911-1937. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0521320542. 0521320542.
  4. ^ Tsang, Steve (2007). A Modern History of Hong Kong. I. B. Taurus & Company. ISBN 978-1-84511-419-0.
  5. ^ Mao Zedong; Michael Y. M. Kau, John K. Leung (eds.) The Writings of Mao Zedong - Volume II 1949–1976: January 1956-December 1957. M.E. Sharpe, 1992, p. 136
  6. ^ Mao Zedong. "Analysis if the classes in Chinese Society". Marxists.org.
  7. ^ Slobodan Antonić: Компрадори 10 April 2010
  8. ^ Trotsky, Leon (2008). History of the Russian Revolution (PDF). Haymarket Books. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-1931859-45-5.
  9. ^ Amin, Samir (2011). Maldevelopment: Anatomy of a Global Failure Archived 2021-09-10 at the Wayback Machine, Pambazuka Press, Oxford. ISBN 1906387796.
  10. ^ Mitra, Ashok. "Hour of the Comprador". The Telegraph, Kolkata, 27 April 2007– "The tribe who were boot-lickers of the British — compradors par excellence — had got totally eclipsed in India amidst the fervour and frenzy of the freedom movement. Circumstances are however forcing a re-recognition of Arnold Toynbee: history is a victim of the virus of circularity. The country is creeping back to a comprador climate. The new generation of information technology barons, spawned by the surge of outsourcing, is determined to transform the land into impeccable comprador territory."
  11. ^ Saraswati, Jyoti (2012). Dot.compradors: Power and Policy in the Development of the Indian Software Industry, Pluto Press, London. ISBN 9780745332659.
  12. ^ Carl Smith (2005). The Emergence Of A Chinese Elite In Hong Kong (PDF). Hong Kong University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-962-209-688-2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-09-11. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  13. ^ Delyagin, Mikhail Gennadyevich (2013-02-18). "В России установился компрадорский капитализм" [Compador capitalism has established itself in Russia]. Archived from the original on 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2023-09-04. У нас парадокс в том, что компрадорскую политику проводит само государство. [We have a paradox in that the state itself operates comprador politics.]

Further reading[edit]

  • Chan, Kai Yiu (2001). "A Turning Point in China's Comprador System: KMA's Changing Marketing Structure in the Lower Yangzi Region, 1912-25". Business History. 43 (2): 51–72. doi:10.1080/713999222. S2CID 154838376.
  • Chan, Wellington K. K. "Government, merchants and industry to 1911." The Cambridge History of China: 1800-1911 vol 11. Part 2 (1980) pp: 416–462.
  • Faure, David. China and Capitalism: A History of Business Enterprise in Modern China (Hong Kong UP, 2006), covers 1500 to 1999; 136pp
  • Faure, David. The rural economy of pre-liberation China: trade expansion and peasant livelihood in Jiangsu and Guangdong, 1870 to 1937 (Oxford UP, 1989).
  • Hao, Yen-p'ing. The comprador in nineteenth century China: bridge between East and West (Harvard UP. 1970) online.
  • Hung, Ho-fung. "Agricultural Revolution and Elite Reproduction in Qing China: The Transition to Capitalism Debate Revisited" American Sociological Review (2008) 73#4 pp. 569–588 online
  • Po-Keung, Hui. "Comprador politics and middleman capitalism." in Hong Kong's History, ed by Ngo Tak-wing (Routledge, 1999) pp: 30–45.
  • Zelin, Madeleine. The Merchants of Zigong: Industrial Entrepreneurship in Early Modern China (Columbia UP, 2005).

External links[edit]