Tag: Lowe Kong Meng

Lowe Kong Meng: China’s first global citizen?

Paul Macgregor will be addressing the Melbourne Chinese Studies Group on the life of Lowe Kong Meng (1831–88):

Date: Friday 5 December 2008, 6pm
Admission: $2, all welcome
Venue: Jenny Florence Room, 3rd Floor, Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (between Swanston and Elizabeth Sts)
Topic: Lowe Kong Meng 1831-1888: China’s first global citizen?
Speaker: Paul Macgregor

Born in Malaya, with a Cantonese father and possibly a Nonya mother; educated in English, French and Italian; trading in: tea and opium from China to Melbourne, beche de mer from Queensland to Hong Kong, sugar from Mauritius, rice from Calcutta to Victoria – Lowe Kong Meng was head of a firm that had branches in Melbourne, Townsville, Mauritius, Hong Kong and London. Awarded the honour of Chinese imperial rank of the blue button (the equivalent of a British knighthood), Lowe Kong Meng was the unofficial consul of the Chinese government in Victoria, but also claimed to be a British subject because of his birth in Penang, a British dependency. His colleagues included those in the highest political and business circles of Melbourne, as well as New York traders and members of the Shanghai American community. All this before 1870. Lowe Kong Meng has a modest place in Australian historiography, yet the scope of his achievements warrants much more. In this paper Paul Macgregor will argue that Lowe took opportunities open to him through the expansion of the British Empire in the Far East and Australasia to become a unique bridge between European & Asian cultures in the 19th century.

Paul Macgregor is an historian who is the convenor of the Melbourne Chinese Studies Group, and was the curator of Melbourne’s Museum of Chinese Australian History from 1990 to 2005. He is the editor of Histories of the Chinese in Australasia and the South Pacific (1995), and joint editor of both Chinese in Oceania (2002) and After the Rush: Regulation, Participation and Chinese Communities in Australia 1860-1940 (2004). He has organised three international conferences on the Chinese diaspora in Australasia, and has curated numerous exhibitions on the history and material heritage of Chinese Australians.

The talk will be followed by an informal, inexpensive meal in a nearby Chinatown restaurant.