Fion Wai Ling SO

Part-time Lecturer

PhD, History, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Fion So is a historian of 19th and 20th century China and Germany. Before starting her PhD in SOAS in 2009, Fion was involved in setting up the Jebsen and Jessen Historical Archives in Denmark. It was part of the Jebsen History Project from 1895 to the present. Given this background, she conducted extensive on-site visits to libraries and archives in Germany, United Kingdom, the US, the Netherlands, France, Denmark, Taiwan and China and heavily cites historical materials in Chinese, English and German languages in her doctoral dissertation. Her doctoral research explores how German colonialism affected the political economy of Qingdao and the Chinese hinterland in Shandong. It also demonstrates how China and the German empire fitted in the world expanding trade economies. In 2014, Fion was awarded her doctorate degree and with the support of Fritz Thyssen Foundation, this research was published with Routledge in 2019. 

Apart from this research, she has also published a book chapter about the rise of Chinese consul system with the motives of protecting overseas Chinese in Latin America and rallying financial support from overseas Chinese in SEA region during the self-strengthening movement in the 1860s. This year, Fion will teach a MA China studies course on China in world history in the first decade of the 20th century in Fall 2021. Alongside her academic research in London, Fion spent a few years in Hong Kong and developed her financial career in prime brokerage. Having directly involved in setting up an international prime brokerage house, Fion will share her expertise and experiences in the financial sectors in fields including compliance, risk management, stock connect, Green Fund and iBond, etc in the Chinese field trip course in term 2.

Research Interests:

  • German colonialism in China
  • Chinese business history
  • history of modern Chinese economy
  • history of China’s connection to the world
  • economic and business history
  • diplomatic history
  • political economy
  • development studies
  • history of capitalism

Representative Publications

Books and Edited Volumes


So, Fion Wai Ling. Germany’s Colony in China – Colonialism, Protectionism, and Development in Qingdao and Shandong, 1898-1909, monograph, Routledge, 2019.

Journal Articles & Book Chapters


So, Fion Wai Ling. “Networking Strategies of the Jebsens and Chinese Merchants in the Late Nineteenth and the Early Twentieth Century” in Business networks in East Asian capitalisms: enduring trends, emerging patterns, Elsevier, edited by Nolan, J., Rowley, C. and Warner, M., 2017.


So, Fion Wai Ling. “The rise of Chinese consular service abroad” in Consulship in the 19th Century, edited by Jörg Ulbert and Lukian Prijac. DOBU, Dokumentation & Buch, 2010.

Current Research Projects

Currently Fion develops new research cites the example of German companies in Hong Kong and China and assesses the impact of new government leadership after 1908 and during the early Republican period in altering the market landscape.

Contextualizing within the framework of East Asian capitalism, this research will explore how such changes affected foreign business operations and their networking strategies in China, all inevitably affecting China’s regional economies integration with the world.

Courses Offered

CHES3105 Cultural History of China
CHES5002B Chinese Studies Field Trip
CHES5153 China and World History in the 20th Century