The Dragon and the Crown

Hong Kong Memoirs


Stanley S. K. Kwan with Nicole Kwan

ISBN : 978-962-209-955-5


November 2008

256 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$250.00

Also available in Paperback HK$160.00

The Dragon and the Crown is the unforgettable memoirs of Stanley Kwan, the creator of the Hang Seng Index.

Wedged between the East and the West—the Dragon and the Crown—Stanley Kwan’s life experiences are a microcosm of the forces pulling at Hong Kong. He was born into a traditional Chinese banking family but attended King’s College under the British colonial system. Fired up by patriotism during the war, he joined the Nationalist Chinese army and served as an interpreter for American forces in southwest China. In 1949, two of his brothers went to the Mainland to join the socialist revolution. Although tempted to join, he stayed in Hong Kong, worked for a British firm and became a “China watcher” at the American Consulate General. He finally joined a local Chinese bank—Hang Seng Bank where, as head of the Research Department, he launched the Hang Seng Index and witnessed the dramatic ebbs and flows of the Hong Kong economy. With the prospect of 1997, Stanley Kwan deliberated on his future and decided to retire to Canada in 1984, joining the tide of immigrants from Hong Kong.

While Hong Kong’s spectacular economic growth and its political development have been well documented, the social and cultural experiences of the ordinary people swept up in the changes and their thoughts and aspirations have not found a significant voice. Through the personal experiences of Stanley Kwan and those around him, the book gives such a voice to people whose lives have been profoundly affected by the dramatic changes that Hong Kong underwent as it transitioned from an entrepôt to an international financial centre and from a colony to become a part of China.

The book contributes to the ongoing search for Hong Kong identity in the Special Administrative Region and will resonate among people in Hong Kong and those with ties to or an interest in the fate of the former colony.

Stanley S. K. Kwan was born in Hong Kong in 1925 into a traditional Chinese banking family. He attended King’s College until the fall of Hong Kong in 1941 and joined the Chinese army as an interpreter for US forces during the war. From 1962 until he retired in 1984, he headed the Research Department in Hang Seng Bank. He launched the Hang Seng Index in 1969, served on the government’s Statistics Advisory Board during 1976–84 and was awarded the MBE in 1985. He now lives in Toronto, Canada. Nicole Kwan is the niece of Stanley Kwan. She has a BA degree from Smith College and MAs from Yale University and the University of Hong Kong. She worked in international banking for over twenty years while based in Hong Kong.

The Dragon and the Crown is a fascinating account of the twentieth-century history of Hong Kong. Stanley Kwan is the master of the telling detail as he recounts the saga of his extended family, torn between capitalist, colonialist Hong Kong and the Chinese Communist revolution. Kwan’s own odyssey is gripping as a survivor of the Japanese attack on Hong Kong, wartime interpreter in mainland China for US troops, auto dealer, banker, creator of the influential Hang Seng Index and, ultimately, target of Communist China’s velvet-gloved attempt to recruit sympathizers among Hong Kong’s rich and famous.” —Jan Wong, author of Red China Blues and Beijing Confidential

“Our lives today seem dull compared to those who lived through the war, and not only witnessed but experienced the tussle between the Nationalists and Communists in the borrowed place of British colonial Hong Kong. Political ideology has always been a divider even among family members. Old heartaches come alive through the retelling of the personal stories in this book to remind us of lost hope and the need to soldier on nevertheless.” —Christine Loh, CEO of Civic Exchange

“If a memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, the account of the experiences of Stanley S. K. Kwan in The Dragon and the Crown is not just a collection of personal recollections. It says volumes about the collective memory of Hong Kong Chinese amid the sea change since the twentieth century.” —Chris Yeung, South China Morning Post

“A compelling story, and he tells it well.” —Frank Ching, Wall Street Journal Asia