Dr. GAO Chong has invited Dr. Ka-Kin CHEUK to give a public lecture on October 28, 2022. Dr. CHEUK is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology in the Department of Chinese and History at the City University of Hong Kong the City University of Hong Kong. In this lecture, Dr. Cheuk explores how strategic use of both formal and informal money transactions make the international trade between Indian traders and Chinese suppliers workable.

Co-organizers: Department of Sociology, Hong Kong Shue Yan University (HKSYU); Social Research Centre, Department of Sociology, HKSYU

Chiefly drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the district of Keqiao in Zhejiang Province since 2009, this talk will show that irregular financial transactions play a significant role in the sustenance of otherwise tenuous business relations between Indian traders and Chinese suppliers in the China–Dubai fabric trade. Much of the fabric exported from Keqiao to Dubai relies on intertwined formal and informal transactions operated by Indian diasporic trading networks. These labyrinthine transnational money transactions aim to circumvent institutional hurdles and overcome deficiencies in operating capital, yet inherent to this system is a cycle of payment lags that cause tense relations between payers and payees. Such money transactions facilitate eventual payment in most cases most of the time and maintain enough trust to keep the trade network alive. Furthermore, the interlocking circuits of money circulations also prevent the overaccumulation of wealth and power by any particular stakeholder involved in the international trade and defy or at least circumvent the formal political authority of state and financial institutions that seek to curtail such practices. These transactions thereby create a larger space for business survival among the grassroots players, especially Indian traders who may not have enough capital available when they initiate a deal with a Chinese supplier.