September China Seminar

September 16, 2021 | 12:00 p.m. HST | Event is free but registration is required

China Seminar begins its 2021-2022 season with reflections on the more than forty plus years since the program was established.

Eager to spread interest in and knowledge of all facets of China, in 1978 Professor Daniel Kwok launched the China Seminar, which combined serious discussion of a wide range of topics, followed always by The Maple Garden Restaurant’s superb food. Over the years, more than 250 speakers have delivered over 350 presentations on a wide range of topics — covering history, culture, politics, economics, art, theater, music, food, technology, intellectual property, law, and even medicine. The China Seminar has been the premier venue for exchanging ideas and has been at the forefront of serious discussions as China rose to become a major political and economic power. 

Join us in reflecting on the legacy of the China Seminar as we forge new paths forward. 

The Friends of the East-West Center and East-West Center are honored to continue this vital program online for our members, local community, and those worldwide who are interested in all topics concerning China.

Daniel Kwok’s Unique Connections to China 

Daniel W. Y. Kwok was born in Shanghai, China, in 1932. His father, Tak-Wah Kwok, was an official in the Republic of China’s Shanghai Foreign Office during the turbulent years before the Communist takeover. His father studied political science at the University of Washington, Harvard, and Cambridge. His mother, Grace Wong, came from a Shanghai Episcopalian family and was educated at Oberlin College and the New England Conservatory of Music and performed as a concert pianist. Since his father’s work focused on the defense of Shanghai, the family was acutely aware of the social and political issues of the times and of the impending disaster. In the 1930s, they travelled often to Hong Kong and the interiors of China. 

Dr. Kwok left Hong Kong to attend Brown University (BA 1954, History), where he met his wife Nancy Campbell Kwok (Pembroke, BA 1954, French Literature). He then attended Yale University where he earned an MA in Far Eastern Studies (1956) and a PhD in History (1959). He was a lecturer at Yale from 1957–1959, during which time he and Nancy brought their two children, Alison and Theodore, into the world. At Knox College (1959–1961) he introduced new courses on Asia. During these early years his homesickness for China led him to a lifelong interest, in experimenting and cooking Chinese food, to achieve just the right tastes from his childhood memories. 

After joining the faculty at the University of Hawai‘i in 1961, his research and teaching focused on Chinese scientism, populism, and Ming-Qing thought. Daniel retired in 1997 and resides in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. He founded and led the China Seminar from its inception through August 2020. 

May China Seminar

May 13, 2021 | 12:00 p.m. HST | Event is free but registration is required

Alison W. Conner
Professor of Law Emerita
William S. Richardson School of Law
University of Hawai`i at Manoa

This talk will introduce three movies made between 1959-1961 by MP&GI (Motion Picture & General Investment) Ltd., a subsidiary of Singapore’s Cathay Organization founded in 1956 by Loke Wan Tho. A competitor of the larger and now better known Shaw Brothers, MP&GI made most of its movies in Mandarin rather than Cantonese, and its films were popular with audiences throughout Southeast Asia as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan. During its peak years of 1957 to 1964, MP&GI offered viewers a broad range of films, predominantly urban romances, musicals, comedies and social or family dramas, often focusing on the middle class. 

The movies discussed at this seminar provide us with images of education in Hong Kong during a critical time and at three different levels: Education of Love 愛的教育(1961), which is set in primary school; Beauty Parade體育皇后 (also 1961), set in middle school; and Spring Song 青春兒女(1959), which takes place at a university and is probably the first Hong Kong film to depict college life. All three were filmed during a period of educational expansion as well as at the high point of Cathay movies, and they remain of interest even now, with themes that can still resonate with Hong Kong audiences. 

Alison W. Conner is Professor of Law Emerita at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai`i/Mānoa. Before joining the Law School in 1995, she taught law and did research in China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan for twelve years; in 2004, 2014 and 2015 she returned to teach in China, and during 2016 and 2017 she was a visiting scholar in Hong Kong and Taiwan. She writes on Chinese legal history and depictions of the legal system in Chinese movies, including “Don’t Change Your Husband: Divorce in Early Chinese Movies” and “Justice and Law at the (1980) Chinese Movies.”