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Y. K. Pao

My Father

Anna Pao Sohmen

Publication Year: 2012

Sir Y.K. Pao (Pao Yue-kong), 1918–1991, rose from modest origins to become, by the mid-1970s, the world’s largest private ship-owner. His Hong Kong-based company World-Wide Shipping diversified into property, hotels, retail, media, telecommunications, airlines and banking—a hugely influential business empire at a time of rapid regional growth. A philanthropist with extensive international connections, Pao became an unofficial Chinese ambassador at large, forging a strong relationship with the architect of China’s reform, Deng Xiaoping, at the dawn of China’s economic transformation and during the discussions about Hong Kong’s future. Anna Pao Sohmen was at her father’s side during important events and key meetings with leaders around the world. In this affectionate yet unsentimental account, she recounts the pivotal role played by her father at a key historical juncture and the balance he struck between Chinese and British allegiance, between business and politics, and between capitalism and socialism.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Dedication, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Prologue: Letter to My Father

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pp. 1-6

When I left for university at sixteen, you insisted that I write a letter home in Chinese every week. I did, and you always replied personally. Unfortunately, I do not have your postal address now. I hope that this letter will be forwarded to you, and you would give me your sage advice through some indications. ...

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1: Eldest Daughter Sets the Standard

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pp. 7-28

After the war,1 Father and Mother returned to Shanghai and moved into a large and attractive house in the French Concession. We lived in this home for four years. My second sister Bessie was born there. The three-storey, European-style house featured a red, pitched roof and a small apron garden. ...

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2: Embracing Different Opinions, Accepting Opposite Views

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pp. 29-36

Summer vacation ended and autumn turned into winter. There was a blizzard, not unusual fare for Chicago, “the Windy City”. The Rotarian Club of Chicago invited all the foreign postgraduate students to a lecture, followed by a dinner. The speaker was to discuss the South African economy. ...

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3: The Road to Success

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pp. 37-60

In 1955, Father purchased his first ship, a 25-year-old 8,201 DWT coal carrier, for £160,000. He named it Golden Alpha.1 The Golden Alpha was immediately chartered to the Japanese Yamashita-Shinnihon Company. Some other well-known, contemporary shipowners were: D. K. Ludwig, Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos. ...

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4: Globalization

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pp. 61-88

In 1948, conditions in Shanghai worsened by the day. Father, then aged 30, flew to Hong Kong by himself, carrying with him his savings of HK$20,000. He was exploring business opportunities in this British colony with an introduction from Elder Uncle Lu. Then he returned to Shanghai to fetch the rest of his family: Mother, Ah Ying, Bessie and me. ...

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5: Shanghai Banking Days

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pp. 89-106

My parents moved to Chongqing during the war when Shanghai was occupied by the Japanese. Father worked in a bank and helped Elder Uncle Lu cash cheques into used small denomination currency. However, during all the dealing, Father had no suspicion that Elder Uncle Lu was a Communist, let alone an underground party cadre. ...

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6: Developing China’s Tourism and Shipping

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pp. 107-122

In the VIP Room at the Beijing Airport, Father embraced Elder Uncle Lu emotionally. The two men had not seen each other for almost three decades. Elder Uncle Lu wore a grey Mao jacket and walked with a limp.1 His ruddy face and square jaw was now framed by grey hair but his eyes still sparkled with youthful spirit. ...

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7: Friendship with a Man of Vision

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pp. 123-146

At the time of his first meeting with Father, Deng was first vice-premier of the State Council (1975–83).2 During more than a decade of friendship, he also held the post of chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party (1981–89) and chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Central Advisory Commission (1982–87). ...

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8: The Unofficial Ambassador

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pp. 147-168

Father was the first ethnic Chinese to become a director of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd. (now known as HSBC), a British bank founded in Shanghai and later moved to Hong Kong in the 1870s. He later became its first Chinese vice-chairman. He was also one of the first Chinese members of the Hong Kong Club and Shek O Club, historically exclusive British, ...

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9: Education Is Key to a Stronger Country

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pp. 169-182

Father had two brothers and three sisters. With such a large household, the fi nancial circumstances of the family were oft en dire and education was not on the agenda. In any case, Ningbo itself was a poor community and there was not enough money for the government to spend on education. There was one good high school and no university at all. ...

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10: The Goodwill Ambassador

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pp. 183-204

In 1984, it seemed that the word “Ningbo” was on Father’s lips more and more often, especially after he saw Deng Xiaoping in Beidaihe.2 Anything having to do with Ningbo featured prominently on his screen. Before long, Father invited the mayor of Ningbo to Hong Kong to talk about matters. ...

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pp. 205-210

Father left us more than twenty years ago and Deng Xiaoping more than ten. The special friendship forged between the two men has remained significant after all this time. ...


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pp. 211-224

E-ISBN-13: 9789882208728
Print-ISBN-13: 9789888083312

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 69 b/w & col.
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1