Tung Chee-hwa

University of Liverpool

Mechanical Engineering

Country of Origin:
China (Hong Kong)

Study Destination:
United Kingdom

Year of Graduation:

Year inducted into Hall of Fame:

Tung Chee-hwa

Tung Chee-hwa was the first Chief Executive and President of the Executive Council of Hong Kong from the transfer of sovereignty on 1 July 1997 to 12 March 2005.  In 2006, Tung was awarded a Grand Bauhinia Medal.

China picked the former shipping tycoon from relative obscurity to run the former British colony in 1997. He took over from the last British governor, Chris Patten, vowing to preserve Hong Kong's freedoms under the so-called "one country, two systems" model.  But Mr Tung had been building ties with Beijing for a long time. The Chinese leadership invited him to sit on the committee hammering out the Basic Law in 1985. He then began taking on various advisory roles for China, and served on Mr Patten's Executive Council for four years. It was in 1995 that China's plans for him became clear when Chinese President Jiang Zemin sought him out at a photo-call and shook his hand in front of the world's press. He became chief executive designate in 1996, chosen by a Beijing-picked committee.  It is quite ironic therefore, that Tung Chee-hwa first arrived in Hong Kong as a refugee in 1947, fleeing the Communist advance in China.  He was born in Shanghai in 1937, the son of a powerful shipping magnate, who took his young family to Hong Kong rather than live under Mao Zedong. 

He graduated from Liverpool University in 1960 and worked for several years in the United States before returning to Hong Kong in 1969.  Ten years later he became the chairman of his father's shipping empire, Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL). But when the company came close to collapse amid a global slump in the mid 1980s, it is widely believed he was bailed out by the Chinese Government. His many critics say that Beijing has owned him ever since.

In 2008, Tung formed the China-United States Exchange Foundation, a group that aims to promote better understanding between the two countries.

Tung was awarded a Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2006.  He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree in Social Sciences (D.S.Sc) by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on 10 November 2006.