Tung Chee-Hwa 1937–

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Tung Chee-hwa

Tung Chee-hwa was the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China. He was a shipping tycoon whose Oriental Overseas Container Lines was near collapse in 1982 to 1984 until it was saved by pro-Beijing interests. Tung once served in the British colonial regime's highest power organ, the executive council. In late 1996 Tung gained 320 of the HKSAR selection committee's 400 votes to become the first HKSAR chief executive. Tung's lack of policy and communication skills, his abhorrence of politics, and ineffective management contributed to a governance crisis. His public approval has remained low since the 1997 Asian financial crisis that led to a prolonged economic downturn. Despite strong public discontent, Tung won an uncontested second five-year term in 2002 with Beijing's pre-emptive public endorsement. Tung's repeated policy blunders, failure to revive the economy, and mishandling of the national security bill provoked a half-million demonstrators on July 1, 2003 to demand his resignation. This necessitated Beijing's direct intervention in Hong Kong despite the promised "one country, two systems" autonomy: first China aided Hong Kong's economy with special measures, then in spring 2004 vetoed popular demanded HKSAR direct elections in 2007 to 2008. Public dissatisfaction with Tung's performance triggered another mass protest on July 1, 2004.

On December 20, 2004, PRC President Hu Jintao publicly admonished Tung by asking him to summarize his seven-year experience as HKSAR chief executive (since taking office in 1997) to look for "inadequacies" in his regime in order to improve administrative effectiveness. In his January 12, 2005 annual policy speech, Tung acknowledged policy failures that "caused the public pain and unease." Under Beijing's pressure, Tung announced his resignation as HKSAR chief executive on March 12, 2005, citing poor health. Tung's chief executive tenure ended two days later when he became a vice chair of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (the PRC's highest advisory body whose membership is usually a sinecure for retired officials).

SEE ALSO China;Deng Xiaoping; Empire, British; Hong Kong;Shipbuilding.


Chan, Ming K., and So, Alvin Y., eds. Crisis and Transformation in China's Hong Kong. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2002.

Lau, Siu-kai, ed. The First Tung Chee-wah Administration: The First Five Years of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2002.

Chan. Ming K., and Lo, Shiu-hing, Historical Dictionary of the Hong Kong SAR and the Macao SAR. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2005.

Ming Chan