Hillary Clinton's unofficial Hong Kong shopping guide revealed by WikiLeaks: where to get a bargain Birkin-like bag

Clinton given tips on top Hong Kong spots for jewellery and fake it bags, emails leaked by WikiLeaks reveal

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 12:06am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 12:29am

Ahead of her visit to Hong Kong in 2011, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was given a long list of suggested shopping stops that included a cramped store in Admiralty selling “Birkin-like bags” deemed “perfectly legal”.

The email, titled “Hong Kong Shopping” and released by WikiLeaks, caught the attention of Clinton, who was then the United States’ secretary of state.

As she finished a meeting with a high-level Chinese official, she sent the shopping list on to a staff member, adding: “Pls print.”

The shopping list, sent a week before Clinton’s 2011 visit, was prepared by Nancy Bowen, a former managing director of the Clinton Global Initiative Asia. Bowen sent the recommendations to Huma Abedin, who is now vice-chairwoman of Clinton’s election campaign.

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The list – divided into art, antiques, clothing and jewellery – was among a trove of embarrassing emails from Clinton’s campaign that WikiLeaks published and that US intelligence agencies said on Friday came largely from Russian intelligence agencies.

One of Bowen’s suggestions was LIII LIII, a cramped space in Admiralty Centre that sells bags similar to the iconic high-end brand Hermes. In Bowen’s description: “They make Birkin-like bags – no logos and perfectly legal – not cheap but certainly much cheaper than the original.”

A shop assistant told the Post that a small Birkin lookalike would cost at least HK$3,000, a fraction of the US$10,000-plus starting price of a real one.

The email chain published by WikiLeaks did not indicate if Bowen knew she was actually advising the former first lady.

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In the email to Abedin, she also noted more mainstream shopping options for expatriates, like Shanghai Tang – a “beautiful updated version of Chinese style”.

Bowen, who has been based in Hong Kong for more than a decade, also came up with the touristic Hollywood Road for antiques and galleries, including old maps of Hong Kong and Asia as well as antique pottery.

She also recommended the Chow Tai Fook chain and home visits to two jewellery makers.

The Post called Bowen’s current office at Teneo Strategy, an advisory firm founded by a close adviser to Bill Clinton. No one answered the calls. It is unclear if Clinton bought anything from the shopping list.