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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] A comprador is 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 history[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 meant a native servant in European households in Guangzhou in southern China or the neighboring Portuguese colony at Macao who 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, a late-nineteenth-century compradore of the British-owned trading conglomerate Jardine, Matheson & Co. was believed to be the richest man in Hong Kong by the age of 35.[4] Li & Fung partly functioned as a Canton comprador in its early stages.

In Marxism, the term comprador bourgeoisie was later applied to similar trading-class in regions outside of East Asia.[5][6][7][8]

With the emergence (or 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 has discussed the role of compradors in the contemporary global economy in his recent work.[9] In addition, the Indian economist, Ashok Mitra, has accused the owners and managers of firms attached to the Indian software industry of being 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]

In Marxist terminology, Comprador Bourgeoisie, perceived as the serving the interests of foreign imperial powers, is counterposed to 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.

Notable compradors[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "comprador". OXford University Press. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Comprador" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  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".
  7. ^ Slobodan Antonić: Компрадори
  8. ^ Trotsky, Leon (2008). History of the Russian Revolution (PDF). pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-1931859-45-5.
  9. ^ Amin, Samir (2011). Maldevelopment: Anatomy of a Global Failure, Pambazuka Press, Oxford. ISBN 1906387796.
  10. ^ Mitra, Ashok. " Hour of the Comprador. The Telegraph, Kolkata, 27 April 2007.
  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). p. 1. ISBN 978-962-209-688-2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-09-11. Retrieved 2018-09-11.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chan, K. Y. (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.

External links[edit]