12 The term “Compradore”
The OED defines the word Comprador(e) as “a person who acts as an agent for foreign businesses” and suggests it originated, in English, in the 17th century from the Portuguese word for “buyer”.
It is a term which occurs frequently in the 19th century colonial history of Hong Kong especially concerning trade between, China, Hong Kong and the rest of the world.
James Chan has read that the comprador system originally came to prominence after the Canton system, in the late Ming dynasty, was abolished in 1842 and the compradores replaced the “hong” merchants as the main intermediaries between Chinese and Western traders. He is mystified.
James wonders if anyone can explain the terms, Canton system, and hong merchant. And elaborate on how the compradores came about in Hong Kong and what effect they had on 19th century commercial activities here and in particular early manufacturing in the colonial period.