STEPHEN LAU SING-HUNG has hit the Beijing trail. The chairman of Ernst & Young's tax services recently made the move from Hong Kong to explore opportunities for the firm on the mainland. Before he boarded his plane, The Informer caught up with him. Q: Why is Ernst & Young sending you to Beijing? A: Ernst & Young considers Beijing an important office and they want someone with good experience to do the job. I have a lot of grey hair so I have been chosen to go north. An increasing number of multinational and Hong Kong companies are setting up in China after its entry to the World Trade Organisation. Many mainland companies also need tax experts to help them with tax issues. Q: What about your Hong Kong clients? A: I will still take care of my Hong Kong clients as I will return to Hong Kong from time to time. I am still in charge of tax services for Ernst & Young in the Greater China region. Hong Kong is a good market but it is too small for much more expansion. I believe it is inevitable for accounting professionals to go to China to expand their business. Q: How do the tax systems of Hong Kong and China compare? A: Hong Kong's tax system is simple and clear, and the tax rate is among the lowest worldwide. In China, the tax rate is much higher and the tax system is more complicated with different types of tax. The tax laws are unclear and frequently changing. There are many tax collection agents in China as many departments in the central and regional governments can impose levies and taxes. Q: What services do your tax clients in Beijing want? A: In Hong Kong, the clients need tax planning - to structure their business in a way that will help them pay less tax legally. In China, tax planning is not so popular as the authorities may mistake such practices as tax evasion. Our mainland clients want tax advisers to help them comply with the complicated tax laws. Q: The mainland authorities made a high-profile arrest of former actress Liu Xiaoqing on charges of tax evasion involving 14.5 million yuan (about HK$13.73 million) in June, last year. Could you have helped Ms Liu if you had been her tax adviser? A: Not really. Tax evasion is breaching the law and no tax expert could help her in a situation like that. Q: Why do you choose to be a tax adviser? A: Being a tax expert, I meet all the senior people in the companies. It is a great job. Q: What would you do if you could choose your job again? A: A fortune teller said that if I had joined the army, I would have been a general. But I did not follow his advice. I think it is good to be a tax adviser, to help customers solve their problems, rather than being a soldier. Q: What do you plan to do during the weekends in Beijing? A: You will find me in the museums. There are a lot of treasures in the palace and the other museums. I will check the details of them one by one, which will take years. I would also like to spend time at the Great Wall. Q: Your sister Emily Lau Wai-hing is a well-known and outspoken legislator who is always quoted by the media. Did you ever quarrel with her? A: When we were small, we quarrelled from time to time. But that is usual for brother and sister. Emily had the same style when she was a child and would always stick to her own opinions. Q: Beijing is having the coldest winter in 16 years. How will you cope with the weather? A: I am taking all my warm clothing. Q: What will you miss most about Hong Kong? A: I like playing tennis and I will have difficulty in finding enough good partners to play with in Beijing. I will miss the good red wines here. Also, I don't think I can drive in Beijing, so I will miss my car. Q: What is your motto? A: I don't have a motto. I don't think I need one.