Mr. Shangkong

Why the children of many important people are in Hong Kong

Job offers at top US investment bank in the city hardly breaking news as workplace is safer and closer to their hometowns on the mainland

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 6:47am

The sons and daughters and even the grandsons and granddaughters of those who are or used to be in very powerful positions in China have recently grabbed public attention again, thanks to some so-called breaking news which isn't really "breaking" at all.

Many of those children who were born on the mainland are now working and living in Hong Kong. They came here from various places. Some came from the United States after graduating from university in that country.

Others may have come from their hometowns such as Shanghai or Beijing where their parents or relatives were "very important persons" who wanted to send their children out of the country to gain experience and live a different life but not send them too far away for working and living.

For example, those "important parents" might judge a foreign country like the US to be unsafe.

And then Hong Kong naturally becomes the first choice for many of those parents, in particular following the 1997 handover, making them feel safer to keep their children in the city.

If something happens and they want to return to the mainland, they can do it at almost any time - just go to the airport and buy a ticket, and within two or three hours, you will land in Shanghai or Beijing where you can be well protected by your "important parents".

And in cases where those "important parents" are someday in trouble on the mainland, their children can also quickly book flights and fly out of Hong Kong.

The New York Times may feel it got a big scoop when it sent a news alert to its online subscribers worldwide about the children of the chairman of China Everbright Group and a former senior railway official in Beijing getting job offers at the Hong Kong office of JP Morgan.

It kind of indicated that JP Morgan may have wanted to win deals through such special Chinese relations and this may be a breach of the US anti-graft law for multi-national companies operating abroad.

To me, the only news here is in the timing - why now should the US government be bothered? And why China Everbright, just when the major mainland bank is coming to Hong Kong for a listing?

I believe those special relations at big banks are not something that you will call a surprise when you read the relevant news.

What's new after the exposure by the Times of these "special Chinese kids" getting job offers is that some of them are now considering job changes.

To be fair, some of those children do have very good educational backgrounds and they try to remain low-profile and just focus on their work. One of them once complained to me about too much media focus.

"I studied finance at university and if I don't join an investment bank or private equity fund, shall I go home and be a politician like my father? And then some people may say China is like North Korea because of these family succession plans. They always have something to say about China."

That's his personal complaint. Makes some sense?


George Chen is the Post's financial services editor. Mr. Shangkong appears every Monday in the print version of the SCMP. Like it? Visit