Tung's father proposed federal system for China

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 12:00am

Diary reveals how shipping tycoon put suggestion to Richard Nixon

The father of Tung Chee-hwa, the late shipping magnate Tung Chao-yung, once suggested to former US president Richard Nixon the idea of a federal system for China's reunification - an idea that would not have found favour with Beijing.

The chief executive's father put the suggestion to Nixon when they met in Los Angeles in October 1979, according to his diary.

He wrote that the proposal could resolve the problem of 'two Chinas' arising from the removal of Taiwan from the United Nations in 1971. Taiwan was unseated from the United Nations when the world body accepted the mainland as a member that year.

The late tycoon's bold idea is revealed in the C.Y. Tung Diary, which is due to hit the shelves on Saturday.

The four-volume set, covering his entries between 1948 and 1982, is published by the Chinese University Press. It reveals the inner world of the chief executive's father, who died in 1982 at the age of 70.

In an entry in January 1972, he wrote: 'The 'two Chinas' are no longer allowed. What is the way forward?'

Tung Chao-yung wrote in May 1973 that he intended to 'pave the way for peace talks between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang'. The Shanghai-born magnate enjoyed close ties with Taipei and senior Kuomintang officials.

The publisher of the books said that interest in Tung Chao-yung had been reawakened when his eldest son became the chief executive in 1997, and the family decided it was time to produce a proper biography of the late shipping magnate.

When his eldest son became engaged to Betty Tung Chiu Hung-ping on July 7, 1960, Tung Chao-yung recalled what he put in his diary on the day of Tung Chee-hwa's birth 23 years earlier: 'God give him a new life. I hope he will have a bright future.'

In his diary, the chief executive's father showed his down-to-earth lifestyle.

He used to wash his own clothes during overseas trips. In his last entry, on April 13, 1982, just two days before his death, he noted he went home on the MTR.

The chief executive is scheduled to officiate at the opening ceremony of the exhibition C.Y. Tung, Larger Than Life at Exchange Square in Central on Monday. The exhibition will run until December 4.


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