Until December last year, Amy Wong was a partner in a well-known public relations firm which handles the sort of glossy events for which Hong Kong is held in such high regard. On January 1 this year, however, she started a new business. It is called Enhancement Strategies Company and the idea is that Wong, now in her mid-forties, teaches people how to enhance their interpersonal skills, develop speedy sales techniques and generally triumph in the art of negotiation. She does this by passing on relevant tips from her study of the ancient Chinese art of face-reading. So far recipients have included the Rotary Club (in a talk entitled How to size up your prospects in seconds which was given, with near-spooky aptness, at JJ's on Valentine's Day), and the Hong Kong Women Professional & Entrepreneurs Association (who heard How to form a reliable first impression and turn it to your advantage). The week we met she was about to address a group of City University students about interpersonal relationship strategies with potential bosses in order that, as she observed in a sweetly worried way, 'they won't have such a rough time when they land their first jobs'. I had seen Wong a couple of times at functions and was intrigued by this turn of events (which, having no training in physiognomy, I had been unable to predict by merely looking at her), and went round to her flat one afternoon to learn more. She lives near Fortress Hill with her husband, who is a martial arts instructor, his son, and a quantity of antiques including 40 clocks. Four of these ticked away comfortably in her office throughout the interview; there was something strangely appropriate, almost cinematic, about this array of clock faces providing the background to a discussion on human tics. Naturally, I needed to know what I should be gleaning from her own visage in order to write up a perceptive piece. 'It's a very common face,' she replied, with a laugh. 'I tend to think I have the word 'sucker' written all over it. The reason I learnt face-reading was because in my 20s I was lending money to people left, right and centre and they ... evaporated. So I thought that I must do something - you know, it has its practical applications. You learn to screen out the undesirables.' But wouldn't it follow that if she toughened up because of what she read in other people's faces, her own face would itself change? Wong hesitated for a moment. 'I have a round nose so I always have tremendous difficulty saying no. And I'm also very sentimental.' I wanted to have a look at some of her old photographs from, say, a decade ago, to make a comparison, but Wong looked horrified and said no (without too much evidence of a struggle), so I asked if she saw a difference in herself and she nodded. 'The eyes back then are different, and the cheek bones are less pronounced. I have become more businesslike. It is possible to change your personality, then your eyes change and your mouth becomes tighter.' She has been studying face-reading for two decades, but the most important acquisition of knowledge, of course, came from verifying her teacher's lessons in daily life. The field of public relations in Hong Kong surely provided a perfect laboratory for assessing human foibles - the contrast between form and content being so marked - and Wong evidently learned much from her observations. At any rate, she woke up one Saturday morning last March and decided that she would become a professional face-reader. (That it took nine months to make the move is working proof, perhaps, of a reluctance to say no to her work colleagues combined with sentimentality.) But what can she bring to an already crowded industry? 'A lot of the teachers have experience from books but not in the commercial world, and the reservoir of information translates differently these days. For example, in the past the super-rich would have very nice ears with big lobes - but look at Li Ka-shing and Richard Li. They don't have this feature. The super-rich in China in the past lived in their own mansions and didn't go out, but these days people who frequently travel have smaller ears. So the important thing today is to have powerful eyes rather than big ears.' Hmm, I said. Wong produced a box of slides which she uses in her talks. 'There are easy signs to tell if your boss is an impatient person, in which case you have to react quickly.' Such as? 'A short nose. You need a mental ruler - if a nose is shorter than a third of the face, it's short.' She dug out a photograph of a no-nonsense type expatriate and said, 'He has a short nose, therefore he's a man of action.' I said that he also had a wobbly double chin, but Wong replied, 'A double chin is really good. A weak chin means you can't enjoy the wealth you accumulate before 50. If a salesman talks to a client with a short nose, he should get straight to the point and have a proposal ready. Look, this is Paula Jones [Clinton's pal] with a long nose, she's very good at the waiting game.' What about Clinton himself? As it happened, I'd taken along a photo of the US president for Wong's perusal, and she pored over it, sucking in her breath. 'He has thin lips, especially the upper lip, and such people can modify - it's not exactly telling lies - but modify what they've said according to the situation.' As for the bags under his eyes ... 'It's an indication of people who are interested in sex.' This wasn't exactly a revelation, and indeed Wong's comments on the pictures of other people I produced - Jiang Zemin: 'He's got a very powerful face but not in the sense of a founder of a company or a dynasty; he can consolidate the country'; the late Princess of Wales: 'When you can see the whites of the eyes on three sides, it's a sign of someone who can easily die in an accident'; Anson Chan: 'She has a very nice chin which means she can work well beyond the age of retirement' - smacked of the convenient brilliance of retrospective analysis. On the other hand, I was impressed by the sad possibilities deduced from my own face (impractical, irrational, likely to suffer dreadfully in childbirth), and I thought the particular, if painful, emphasis on the business angle ('You're not very good at managing money') would be an excellent hook for Hong Kong clients. Wong is about to do a course for NuSkin - a company that sells beauty products - teaching 45 people 'how to sell things to people with certain features'. I murmured that it was all a matter of psychology really (like interviewing), but Wong replied, 'It's not supposed to be a psychological game. I usually learn to discount what people say and look for the clues. You have to sift through this immense world of information that you can see. I don't believe in giving people false hope, but the ultimate aim is to help them.'