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Obituaries

Tang Hsiang-chien, Hong Kong industrialist and father to former chief secretary, dies aged 95

Businessman and member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee died peacefully on Saturday morning, according to a family representative

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 March, 2018, 7:08pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 March, 2018, 10:59pm

Tang Hsiang-chien, one of Hong Kong’s pre-eminent industrialists and father to former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, died on Saturday morning. He was 95.

Tang “died peacefully”, according to a statement from a family representative.

The family expressed “deep sorrow” over the death.

Tang had a close relationship with former president Jiang Zemin, who hailed from Shanghai, and some observers even described the two “as thick as brothers”.

In politics, Tang played an important role in the negotiations in the lead up to the transfer of Hong Kong from the UK to China. He sat on the Preparatory Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, a body implementing the transition of the city’s sovereignty. He also sat on the election committee from 1996 for a decade that was responsible for electing the city’s leadership.

Tang was born in 1923 into a textile family from Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. After graduating from Shanghai University, he studied in the United Kingdom and the United States. He moved the family business to Hong Kong in the 1950s.

With companies, among them Peninsula Knitters and Soco Textiles, Tang turned his attention to printed circuit-boards. With his company Meadville, he found success in manufacturing and gained a market leading position. The company was later sold to a US company in 2009 but Tang remained on the new parent company’s board of directors.

According to Forbes, Tang’s estimated net worth was US$1.6 billion (HK$12.5 billion).

In a biography of the Hong Kong businessman published in 2014, he mentioned that he saw many foreign businessmen had withdrawn their investments from the mainland after the “June 4th incident” in 1989. That was what prompted Tang, who was in Australia at the time, to return to invest in the mainland as a move “to use business to save the country”.

Using his business acumen, he turned his attention to other areas of public service, holding roles as chair of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, the Textile Trade Union, and was a vice-chair of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce.

According to the statement, the his son Henry Tang apologised for not being able to be at his father’s side as he was attending the annual parliamentary gathering in Beijing.

He is survived by his wife, Susan Tang Yew Zoe-chi, and four children, Henry, Sandys, Mai and Tom.

The elder Tang’s wishes would be conducted in a low-key matter. His ashes will be sent back to his ancestral home in Wuxi, allowing relatives and villagers to pay their respects.

In a statement on Saturday, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said: “Mr Tang Hsiang-chien actively participated in the process of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland and he made great contributions to the preparations for the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ... I was saddened by his passing away and extended my deepest condolences to his family.”