Historian Philip Bowring Discusses the Maritime Silk Road

Why We Recommend it

Historian Philip Bowring gives a talk on the global role of Asia’s maritime silk road, an oft-forgotten but crucial trade link between Asia and Europe.


For at least 2,000 years, the sea has been the main trade link between east and west in Asia, link Japan, Korea and China with India, Arabia, Africa and Europe. Crucial to this link have been the ships of the great archipelago now comprising most of Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia, and their adjacent coasts of South China, Java, Sulu and other seas.

In his talk “Empire of the Winds: The Global Role of Asia’s Maritime Silk Road,” British historian and journalist Philip Bowring will sketch the main themes of this oft-forgotten region from the end of the Ice Age to today, demonstrating the impact of its sailing and trading expertise on the transfer of ideas and people as well as goods, and how they brought successive political and religious changes.

Bowring focuses on particular on Austronesia, the region extending from Easter Island to Madagascar, which is today home to 400 million people that share similar cultural origins. These peoples were crucial to maritime trade, and by appreciating this history, Bowring presents an antidote to Euro- and Sino-centric perspectives of the world – and a new way of understanding contemporary strategic issues and international relationships.

Philip Bowring is a British journalist who read history at Cambridge University. He initially worked as a journalist in Australia, London and Africa, and has been based in Hong Kong since 1973. He has been a correspondent for the Financial Times, editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review, and is currently a columnist for the South China Morning Post. He is the author of several publications including his 2019 Penang Book Prize-winning Empire of the Winds: The Global Role of Asia’s Great Archipelago.


When: 15 Jan 2020 - 15 Jan 2020 Where: UBS – 52/F, Two International Finance Centre, 8 Finance Street – Central