Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Six Degrees of Donald Tsang

HK Six Degrees essentially is "Who's Related to Whom" in Hong Kong and the global Chinese community beyond, starting with Six Degrees of Chief Executive Donald Tsang in an attempt to build the largest family tree of prominent Chinese in recent history.

Periodically the blogger will release a chapter which and each chapter will also be updated as more information are uncovered

Over the years the blogger has amassed a large collection of obituaries, family trees, gravestone notes with a keen interest on the linkages between personalities. Some of the relationships described are well documented and many of them lesser known. Inspired by books such as investigative journalist Chen Rou-chin’s All the President’s Relatives (which has connected virtually everyone important in Taiwan politics and business prior to the Chen Shui-bian administration), Peter Hall's "In the Web" (which did the same for the Eurasian community in HK) and many others genealogical studies in the West, "HK Six Degrees" hopes to dissect power and money in HK past and present.

If you are interested to find whether yourself is connected or if there is any error, feel free to contact the blogger at

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen() – the ultimate Hong Kong rags to riches story - from pharmaceutical salesman with no undergraduate education to Chief Executive. While his success is without a doubt a product of political savvy and hardwork, certain critical family connections helped catapult the once also-ran (jokingly referred to as Chief Janitorial Officer during SARS) to ultimate political winner.

In 2004, Donald made a high profile visit to the mainland Tsang Zhi. Recently I have found a family tree posted on Familypedia which traced his roots all the way back to Emperor Yu, the founder of the Xia dynasty and tamer of the Yellow River.

Donald’s father Tsang Wan might have been only a police sergeant but his connection is critical . One of the few police sergeants from that era who was not implicated in any corruption charges, Tsang Wan was the subordinate and good friend of John Tsang Chiu-fo, the highest ranking Chinese officer in the police force in 1962 when he was deported as a high level spy for the Chinese Communists. John Tsang became a professor in Guangzhou but was also a senior adviser to the Chinese leaders on Hong Kong affairs. It is widely believed that John Tsang who gave the Beijing leaders a seal of background approval for Donald.
While a number of his siblings have immigrated to Canada and far from the business/politics scene, two play prominent roles. His younger brother Tsang Yam-pui 曾蔭培 is well known as the former Police Commissioner and currently works for the New World Group. The most prominent corporate connection however is their only sister Katherine Tsang King-suen. A lifelong Standard Chartered staffer, Katherine rose to become head of human resources at the bank but when his brother became CE, she was made China CEO, a timely appointment.
The Macau Connection
Selina Pau Siu-mei (鲍笑薇) the First Lady of Hong Kong, is the youngest daughter of Pau Iun-hei (鮑元羲 d 2002) and Lo Sui-chun (羅瑞珍 1906-2006) who first made his fortune as the Macanese distributor of Green Spot soft drinks and later as proprietor of Iun Kee Bakery (元記餅家), one of the big three bakeries in Macau. Her only brother Pau Ma-chong (鮑馬壯 1927-) is famous in the sports circle in Macau as former chairman of the Football Association, Amateur Volleyball Association and Basketball Association and member of Macau's Olympic Committee. While Ma-chong is not as important as the "Ho Ma Chui" families (family of outgoing CE Edmund Ho, Ma Man-kei and incoming CE Fernando Chui) in Macau, he is a force to be reckon with since he maintained close ties with the mainland through sports since 1977 and was involved in the formation of the Macau SAR government. This earns extra brownie points for Tsang from the Beijing leadership. A further enhancement of Tsang's Macanese link was made when he appointed Rafael Hui Si-yan as Chief Secretary. Hui is the maternal grandson of Jose ChoiSelina's sisters are Pau Siu-sai (鮑笑茜) and Pau Siu-wan (鮑笑環) but there is no business/political connections of note.

The Heung's Connection to Modern Chinese History

Tsang's connection to Chinese leaders came from his cousin Daniel Heung Cheuk-kei SBS JP. The eldest son of Kuomintang Southern general Heung Honping and Donald's aunt Tsang So-ling and it is through Daniel's marriage to Mailys Li, the granddaughter of Li Tsung-jen, the last Nationalist president in the mainland and leader of the Kwangsi faction who became a Communist sympathizer in his final years, which connects Donald to virtually all the key figures in modern Chinese history. Mailys’ sister Leslie Li is an author who wrote a memoir/cookbook about his grandmother Li Souwen. A highly political union was made between Chiang Kai-shek and Li where Chiang’s niece Hua-hsiu (since Chiang did not have a daughter her position was special) to Li’s nephew Wei Hua-cheng. Chiang of course was the brother in law of Sun Yat-sen, HH Kung and TV Soong and his grand-daughter Amy Hsiao-chang (蔣孝章 1936-) is married to Yu Yang-ho 俞揚和, the son of Defense Minister Yu Tai-wei (俞大維) whose cousin was once married to Jiang Qing (Madam Mao Tse-tung) and their grandmother was the daughter of the prominent Ching official Tseng Kuo-fan (whose distant grand niece was married to Communist marshal Yeh Chian-ying) - All the abovementioned characters have Hong Kong relatives which will be covered in other chapters. General Heung had four concubines and over a dozen children and Tsang So-fan as his fourth concubine also gave birth to Wudy CW Heung who was a US trained attorney who lost everything in real estate speculation and Heung Cheuk-ying, a banking executive. Under his cousin's administration, Daniel Heung, a MIT educated architect was appointed chairman of the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education, but resigned in disgrace when it was uncovered that he was squatting on government land. One cannot underestimate how Daniel's connections in the mainland have helped Donald. The first province in China Donald chose to visit when he became CE was Guangxi, where Daniel is a Consultative Committee member thanks to his own and his grandfather in law (as leader of the Kwangsi faction during the Republican era) connections.

The Fabulous Chan Sisters
Donald’s eldest son Simon Tsang Hing-yin (曾慶衍 1976- MBBS Bristol 1999) is married to his colleague Vivian Mok Way-kay (莫蔚淇 MBBS HKU 2001). In 2005, Mok was briefly the centre of controversy when Donald invited one of her examiners to a banquet before her College of Surgeons exam. Her father Mok Kam-chuen is a contractor with sizeable fortune and her mother is the sister of Dr. Tse Tak-fu (謝德富 HKU MBBS 1968), who as the city’s top cardiologist who counts LKS, Lee Shau kee, Louis Cha and Allen Li among his patients and operator of Vita Green nutraceutical franchise with his pediatrician wife Dr. Helen Chan Hei-ling (陳曦齡 HKU MBBS 1974) has been ranked the highest paid doctor in town. Simon Tsang has to follow his wife to call Tse tak-fu uncle and Donald did not hide this relationship by making a high profile presence at Tak-foo's son Tse Tin-shing's wedding in 2007. Similar to her niece Mok Way-kay, Helen Chan has been scrutinized by the medical community and was reprimanded by the Medical Council for promoting her Vita Green products as a medical doctor a few years back.

Chan’s youngest sister is Agnes Chan Mei-ling (陳美齡 1955.8.20-) the famous singer in Hong Kong and Japan who actually earned a PhD in education from Stanford and is also UNICEF Ambassador for Japan. She married her manager Kaneko (金子力)

Her oldest sister Irene Chan Yi-ling (陳依齡) was a former Shaw Studio actress and is married to John Chu Ka-yan (朱家欣), the founder and CEO of Centro Digital Pictures, Asia's leading animation and special effects studio (Storm Rider, Kung Fu Hustle, Kill Bill). Chu’s father Chu Yu-hwa (朱旭華) was the founder of the Yung Hwa Motion Picture and Cathay Film companies and head of promotions for the Shaw Studio and his brother is the late advertising wizard Michael Chu Ka-ding (朱家鼎1954-2007), who was married to screen goddess Cherie Chung Chor-hung (鍾楚紅 1960.2.16-) Mike Chu has won over 200 advertising awards in his career and his Synergie advertising agency was a leading firm in the 1980s before being sold to Ball Partnership in 1988.
Helen actually co-founded Vita Green in 1991 with her younger brother Abraham Chan Yu-ling (陳宇齡 B.S. Toronto) but he eventually split off to start Purapharm Group and achieved similar success. Abraham served as director of Tung Wah and Lok Sin Tong and is also a part time adviser to the Central Policy Unit on TCM and non-executive director of shoe retailing giant Belle. Through his marriage to Viola Man Yee-wai (文綺慧 3rd Vice chairman of Tung Wah), one of the seven daughters of Dexter Man Hung-cho (文洪磋 1916.1.4-), the family connection extended to a number of old Hong Kong families. HKU alumni would know Dexter who is a fixture at the HKU Alumni Association whose club venue he purchased back in the 1970s where he often be seen dining with classmates such as the late Sir Oswald Cheung. Man is a direct descendant of the famous Soong dynasty patriot Man Tin-cheung and made his fortune in construction and toy manufacturing (Chung Mei Industries). Two of his daughters are also active with HKU alumni affairs: Irene Man Yee-ching who was a leading advertising executive turned travel columnist and had served as president of HKUAA and Dr. Evelyn Man Yee-fun (文綺芬 BA 1971) who is associate professor at CUHK and ran the Toronto chapter of HKUAA. Man Yee-shan married Yu Kai-fan (1950- Wisconsin MBA), former chairman of Lok Sin Tong and eldest son of Yu Kam-ming (1917.2.20-1992.10.2) publisher and chairman of Yen Yen Bookstore.
Dexter's only son Sebastian Man Shiu-wai () graduated from HBS and took over as CEO of Chung Mei and is married to Christina Chan Miu-lan (陳妙蘭), the daughter of Chan Pak-keung, architect and son of taxicab magnate, Vitasoy cofounder, South China Athletic Association chairman and philanthropist Chan Nam-chong (陳南昌 1909-1970.8.10). Chan Pak-keung and his wife Wong Yuk-yee (who was god-daughter of Mrs. Ellen Li, the first female Legco councilor) has 5 daughters, 2 of whom Christina and Sheila (married to architect William To) has served as Tung Wah directors.

Donald's second son 曾慶淳 is a Cambridge graduate working for Oracle and is currently dating Winnie Chiu 邱詠筠, daughter of David Chiu Tat-cheong and granddaughter of controversial tycoon former ATV boss Deacon Chiu (邱德根). Deacon Chiu's eldest son Dick Chiu Tat-sang was married to the daughter of Dr. Hans Tang and actress Nancy Chan Wun-seung. Tang's son Sherman runs the Epicurean Group which owns the Peak's Lookout and other restaurants. Deacon's youngest son Duncan is married in 2004 to So Kin-yan 蘇健恩, daughter of So Kim-tai 蘇金泰 the founder of Cheong Kee Special Food Product, the king of fishballs which had 42% market share before shutting down in 2008.
Coming Soon:
Six Degrees of Tung Chee-hwa
Six Degrees of Andrew Li
Six Degrees of Henry Tang
Six Degrees of Regina Ip
Six Degrees of Anson Chan
Six Degrees of Li Ka-shing
Six Degrees of Walter Kwok
Six Degrees of Nina Wang

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