Ka-Kin Cheuk is Post-doctoral Fellow at the Center for Global Asia, New York University, Shanghai. Trained as a social and cultural anthropologist, Ka-Kin has conducted long-term ethnographic research on the Sikh migrants in Hong Kong and the Indian textile traders in southeast China. His most recent research is a multi-sited ethnographic study of China-Europe flower trade connections and its everyday implications for environmental ethics. He has published articles in journals such as The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology and is currently co-editing a journal special issue for Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration (Intellect Ltd). He received his DPhil from the University of Oxford and his first post-doctoral fellowship from the Leiden University.
「 The Emerging China-Netherlands Flower Trade and Its Eurasian Mobility Nexus 」
Accounting for over 50% of the world floricultural trade, the Netherlands still dominates the flower supply chain. However, this dominance continues to be weakened by economic recessions looming in Europe. By stark contrast, China’s flower industries is on a spectacular rise, with its production sector growing at least 20% per year and the flower consumption reaching US$22 billion by 2020 – both of which are the fastest growths in today’s flower economy. While rising as a competitive flower exporter, China has also become the most lucrative destination for tulips, daffodils, and other high-value bulb flowers imported from the Netherlands. Given a mix of new challenges and opportunities, it is evermore inevitable for Dutch and Chinese florists to engage with each other. Without doubt, the current global flower economy is being re-configured by the ever-growing China-Netherlands connections.
When a new China-Netherlands flower nexus begins to take shape, this global development is entangled in an ethical debate on environment and sustainability. The debate is mainly about how a sustainable human-environment relation should be maintained in tandem with an ever-globalizing economy, which has been thus far environmentally detrimental to a large extent. Indeed, flower production necessitates intensive use of water, pesticides, and fertilizers, which often causes irreversible environmental degradation. This problem is particularly serious in East Africa, where flower farming has been rampantly outsourced from European countries, including the Netherlands. Precisely for this reason, the rapid expansion of China-Netherlands flower trade should also warrant a close scholarly scrutiny. Is China-Netherlands trade reproducing the contentious European model of outsourcing, which, in many cases, hides the transnational exploitation of environmental resources? What ethical interventions should be made in dealing with the growing complexity of China-Netherlands flower trade? How should people come to terms with the everyday ethics of trading a floricultural commodity that is increasingly China-related? This paper, which is based on preliminary ethnographic research, explore these questions by mapping out some related Eurasian mobilities.