Elizabeth Sinn talked about the book at ChinaFile
During the nineteenth century tens of thousands of Chinese men and women crossed the Pacific to work, trade, and settle in California. Drawn initially by the gold rush, they took with them skills and goods and a view of the world which, though still Chinese, was transformed by their long journeys back and forth. They in turn transformed Hong Kong, their main point of embarkation, from a struggling infant colony into a prosperous international port and the cultural center of a far-ranging Chinese diaspora.
Making use of extensive research in archives around the world, Pacific Crossing charts the rise of Chinese Gold Mountain firms engaged in all kinds of transpacific trade, especially the lucrative export of prepared opium and other luxury goods. Challenging the traditional view that the migration was primarily a "coolie trade," Elizabeth Sinn uncovers leadership and agency among the many Chinese who made the crossing. In presenting Hong Kong as an "in-between place" of repeated journeys and continuous movement, Sinn also offers a fresh view of the British colony and a new paradigm for migration studies.
Elizabeth Sinn is the author of Power and Charity: A Chinese Merchant Elite in Colonial Hong Kong.
"During the second half of the nineteenth century, Hong Kong provided a transpacific outreach for enterprising Cantonese to leapfrog the region, the first Great Leap in the Chinese people's passage to the new world. Elizabeth Sinn’s scholarly study tells the story of how the colony became the pivot in modern Chinese migrations. Her book traces the myriad ways that made Hong Kong not only a major trading center but also the indispensable second home for diasporic Chinese. This is an excellent work of history that tells a compelling story." — Wang Gungwu, Chairman, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore
"The definitive statement about Hong Kong’s roots as the catalyst for the rise of a transpacific world. Sinn forces us to rethink how migration connected China and North America, examining the movement of not only people but goods in shaping how 'Gold Mountain' fueled the rise of Hong Kong, and how migrating Chinese and the companies they created built a corridor across the Pacific." — Henry Yu, author of Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America
"Elizabeth Sinn's intricately researched study wastes no time getting to the main point. Hong Kong had room for all its people to make a living. As a British colony it 'provided enough flexibility and openness for people of different backgrounds to exert their entrepreneurial vitality and not be ashamed of growing rich.' When news of the California gold rush 'an ocean away' reached Hong Kong, it was 'a call for action.' For the discerning reader, Dr Sinn's book is, likewise, a call for action: Read it!" — Philip A. Kuhn, author of Chinese Among Others: Emigration in Modern Times
"This is a tour de force: a closely focused history, rich in detail, well balanced, generously footnoted, yet eminently readable. Of particular value to those interested in Hong Kong, in migration or in Chinese cultural studies, the book is readily accessible to the non-specialist too." — The China Quarterly