A Hong (Chinese: 行; pinyin: háng; Jyutping: hong4-2) originally designates both a type of building and a type of Chinese merchant intermediary in Guangzhou (also now known as Canton), Guangdong, China, in the 18-19th century, specifically during the Canton System period.
The name hong (Chinese: 行; pinyin: háng; Jyutping: hong4; literally: 'profession, also row or rank') originally referred to the row of factories built outside of the city walls of Guangzhou 广州 (Canton), near the Pearl River. The Thirteen Factories were used during the Canton System period to host foreign traders and the products purchased, under the aegis of the cohong. The Hong (or Factories) were usually owned by hong merchants such as Pan Zhencheng (Poankeequa 1).
The Guangzhou Hong changed location several times after fires, and became less important after the First Opium War (1839–1842), as Guangzhou lost its monopoly of foreign trade and Hong Kong was ceded to the British as a colony.
In Hong Kong, the name hong designated major business houses. One of the earliest foreign hongs established in Hong Kong was Jardine Matheson & Co., who bought Lot No. 1 at the first Hong Kong land sale in 1841. In 1843 the same firm established a mainland China headquarters on the Bund in Shanghai, just south of the British Consulate. The building was known as "the Ewo Hong", or "Ewo House", based on the Cantonese pronunciation of the company's Chinese name (怡和行, Cantonese: Yiwo Hong, now 怡和洋行). Jardines took the name from the earlier Ewo hong run by Howqua near Whampoa, Canton.
The term is most often used in reference to Colonial Hong Kong companies directly.
Prior to the establishment of banking institutions other than small foreign bank branches, the three firms that financed most of Hong Kong's economic activities were Jardine's, Dent's and Russell's. Most of these firms became multinational corporations with management consisting of mostly European expatriates.
By the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, many of the hongs had diversified their holdings and shifted their headquarters offshore away from Hong Kong to avoid potential takeover by the Chinese Communist Party.
Conglomerates of colonial Hong Kong
Note: Below are lists of companies that had a predominant effect on Hong Kong's economy at a particular era. Their noteworthiness is debatable. The official names of the era are used.
- 12 large British firms
- Six Indian Parsee companies – including D.M. Rustomjee
- One American company – Augustine Heard and Company
- Russell & Co – US company founded by Samuel Russell in Canton in 1824 for the opium trade; acquired J & T H Perkins of Boston in 1830, established Hong Kong office 1850
- Wheelock Marden 1857
- Gilman and Bowman – established by Richard James Gilman as a tea trader in 1840; taken over by Duncan Paterson of Australia 1917 and turned into a privately held company; bought by Inchcape Group in 1969
- Butterfield and Swire
- Adamson Bell and Company; transformed into Dodwell, Carlill & Co. in 1891 by George Benjamin Dodwell; changed name to Dodwell & Co. in 1899; bought by Inchcape Group in 1972
- The Wharf (Holdings)
- Economy of Hong Kong
- Nam Pak Hong
- The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
- Hang Seng Index
- Old China Trade
- Sogo shosha, Japan
- Zaibatsu, Japan
- Keiretsu, Japan
- Chaebol, South Korea
- Four big families of Hong Kong
- English Chartered Trading Companies, England/Britain -including fur trading company Hudson's Bay Company
- Rise & Fall of the Canton Trade System l MIT Visualizing Cultures - Merchants West and East, by Peter Perdue https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/rise_fall_canton_01/cw_essay03.html
- Couling, Samuel M A (1907). Encyclopaedia Sinica. p. 235.
- Van Dyke 范岱克, Paul. (2017). The Hume Scroll of 1772 and the Faces behind the Canton Factories. http://www.icm.gov.mo/rc/viewer/40054/2267
- Conner, Patrick. 2009. The hongs of Canton: western merchants in south China 1700-1900, as seen in Chinese export paintings. London: English Art Books.
- Jardine Matheson – Official history.
- Tales of Old Shanghai. "Earnshaw.com." The Hongs. Retrieved on 29 March 2007.
- Cheong, W.E. (1997). The Hong merchants of Canton: Chinese merchants in Sino-Western trade. Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-0361-6. p.122 Online version at Google books
- "Hong Kong Hongs with Long Histories and British Connections" (PDF). Hong Kong University. 1990. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
- Genzberger, Christine A.  (1994) Hong Kong Business: The Portable Encyclopedia for Doing Business with Hong Kong. ISBN 0-9631864-7-7
- Dan Waters, "Hong Kong Hongs with Long Histories and British Connections", Paper presented at the 12th Conference of the International Association of Historians of Asia, at Hong Kong University (June 1991): 230–231; http://hkjo.lib.hku.hk/archive/files/8deeba7475f950a5f3938fc24f687bbe.pdf
- Waters, Dan: "Hong Kong Hongs with Long Histories and British Connections", Paper presented at the 12th Conference of the International Association of Historians of Asia, at Hong Kong University (June 1991)