Event Detail


The Silver Way: China, Spain & South America, and the Beginning of Globalisation

Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales
Monday, 22 May 2017
Complimentary Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm
Macquarie Securities, Level 22, One International Finance Centre, 1 Harbour View Street, Central

The Royal Geographical Society is delighted to welcome Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales to speak.  In this lecture, Messrs Gordon and Morales describe how, long before London and New York rose to international prominence, a trading route was discovered between Spanish America and China, that ushered in a new era of globalisation.  The Ruta de la Plata or “Silver Way” catalysed economic and cultural exchange, built the foundations for the first global currency and led to the rise of the first ‘world city’.

The Pacific trade route resembles, and in many ways is the successor to, the “Silk Road” of earlier centuries, hence it being called the “Silver Way”.  Yet, for all its importance, the ‘Silver Way’ is too often neglected in conventional narratives on the birth of globalisation.  Messrs Gordon and Morales re-establish its fascinating role in economic and cultural history, with direct consequences for understanding China today.  The speakers explore the birth of globalisation by tracing its roots to the decades-old relationship between Mexico City, Manila and Guangzhou and its impact reaching into present day economics and politics. The speakers argue that the topic of Latin American and Chinese trade relations presently is a very relevant one that should be watched closely. 

The key elements of globalisation date from the decades following the discovery in 1565 by Andrés de Urdaneta of the route east across the Pacific and the development of the “Manila Galleon” trade route. These included: bi-directional trade routes of global scope; the integration of world financial markets through the medium of silver; the first global currency in the Spanish milled dollar; and corresponding human and cultural exchanges resulting in a “world city” in Mexico.

Peter Gordon is the editor and founder of the “Asian Review of Books” and the publisher at Chameleon Press.  He has been active in Hong Kong book circles since 1999 and writes regularly for the Hong Kong and regional press on policy and culture.  He was the driving force behind the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Hong Kong-based online bookseller Paddyfield.com.  He has a degree in Applied Mathematics and Linguistics from Harvard University and previously resided in Latin America.

Juan José Morales is a lawyer and management consultant who writes for the magazine “Compromiso Empresarial”.  He is well-known as a writer and speaker on Asian and Iberian history, arts and culture, and is the former President of the Spanish Chamber of Hong Kong.  Hailing from Spain, he has resided in Hong Kong for more than 20 years.  He has a Master’s Degree in International and Public Affairs from the University of Hong Kong, where he now lectures on Chinese Poetry, and has also studied International Relations at Peking University.  His writing on history, arts and culture has appeared in the “South China Morning Post”, “Caixin”, “China Daily”, “The Diplomat” and other publications.  He has served on the board of several cultural societies, and is now Honorary Secretary of the Board of Governors of Musica Viva.

Members of the RGS, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$150 for RGS Members and HK$200 for guests and others, including a complimentary glass of red or white wine.

The Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong wishes to express its thanks to Macquarie Securities for its generous assistance with this event.

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