James Tien (politician)

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James Tien Pei-chun
James Tien cut.jpg
Member of the Legislative Council
In office
1 October 2012 – 30 September 2016
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Eunice Yung
Constituency New Territories East
In office
1 October 2004 – 30 September 2008
Preceded by Wong Sing-chi
Succeeded by Wong Sing-chi
In office
21 December 1996 – 30 June 1998
(Provisional Legislative Council)
In office
1 July 1998 – 30 September 2004
Preceded by New parliament
Succeeded by Jeffrey Lam
Constituency Commercial (First)
In office
28 June 1993 – 30 June 1997
Preceded by Stephen Cheong
Succeeded by Replaced by Provisional Legislative Council
Constituency Industrial (First)
In office
12 October 1988 – 22 August 1991
Appointed by Sir David Wilson
Non-official Member of the Executive Council
In office
1 July 2002 – 6 July 2003
Appointed by Tung Chee-hwa
Succeeded by Selina Chow
Member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
In office
March 2003 – 29 October 2014
Chairman Jia Qinglin
Yu Zhengsheng
Leader of the Liberal Party
In office
21 May 2013 – 29 October 2014
Chairperson Selina Chow
Preceded by New post
Succeeded by Vincent Fang
Chairman of the Liberal Party
In office
5 December 1998 – 8 September 2008
Preceded by Allen Lee
Succeeded by Miriam Lau
Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
In office
1 April 2007 – 1 April 2013
Appointed by Donald Tsang
Preceded by Selina Chow
Succeeded by Peter Lam
Personal details
Born (1947-01-08) 8 January 1947 (age 71)
Shanghai, Republic of China
Political party Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Mary N. H.
Relations Michael Tien (brother)
Children Andrea
Parents Francis Tien
Residence Hong Kong Island
Alma mater Diocesan Boys' School
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Occupation Politician, entrepreneur
James Tien
Chinese 田北俊

James Tien Pei-chun, GBS, OBE, JP (Chinese: 田北俊; born 8 January 1947) is the former Chairman and Leader of the Liberal Party (LP) and former member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (Legco). Coming from the background of an entrepreneur, he was also a non-official member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong (Exco), member of Central and Western and Kwai Tsing District Council and Hong Kong member to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Early life and family[edit]

Tien was born in 1947 in Shanghai and moved to Hong Kong two years later with his family. His father, Francis Tien, was a successful clothing merchant, owning textile factories in Hong Kong and was appointed member of the Legislative Council and many consultative bodies for the colonial government in the 1960s and 70s. James Tien's younger brother Michael Tien owns the fashion chain G2000 and was chairman of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation before it merged with the Mass Transit Railway Corporation.

He was educated at the Diocesan Boys' School traveled to the United States to study chemical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign when he was 17 years old and met his wife Mary, a Vietnamese-Chinese, in the college. In 1970, the couple returned to Hong Kong and he worked for his father in the factories.

Political career[edit]

Early ventures and Legislative Councillor[edit]

He was first appointed member of the Kwai Tsing District Board in 1985 as a representative of the business sector as his factories were in Kwai Chung. He was appointed to the Hong Kong Basic Law Consultative Committee (BLCC) which oversaw the drafting of the post-1997 Hong Kong Basic Law in 1985. He was part of the Group of 89, the conservative faction of the Committee members consisting of mostly businessmen and professionals elites. In 1990, Tien joined the two pro-business conservative political groups, the Business and Professionals Federation of Hong Kong and the Liberal Democratic Federation of Hong Kong evolved out of the Group of 89.

He was first appointed to the Legislative Council in 1988, in which he served until 1991 when the first Legislative Council direct election was introduced in 1991. In 1993 when Stephen Cheong, member of the Legislative Council, representing the Industrial (First) functional constituency, died of heart attack, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries nominated Tien to replace Cheong. In 1993, he co-founded the pro-business Liberal Party which was established by the business sector in the legislature countering the liberal faction of the United Democrats of Hong Kong after its landslide victory in the 1991 Legislative Council election. In 1996, he was elected member of the Beijing-controlled Provisional Legislative Council, to counter the last colonial Legislative Council elected in 1995, making him one of the members of the both Legislative Councils at the same time.

In the first SAR Legislative Council election in 1998, he ran in the Commercial (First) functional constituency representing Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce's approximately 4,000 members. Tien was elected uncontestedly by the chamber. He became Chairman of the Liberal Party after the resignation of its first leader, Allen Lee, in December 1998 after Lee suffered his defeat in the New Territories East geographical constituency direct election.[1]

He was also Chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, an most influential chamber of commerce in Hong Kong between 1996 and 1997. He is also a general committee member of both the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Hong Kong Industries.

Liberal Party Chairman and Executive Councillor[edit]

Tien joined the Executive Council, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's cabinet, in July 2002 as Chairman of the Liberal Party, following the reorganisation of the Council under the new Principal Officials Accountability System of the Chief Executive. Although being the ally of the Tung administration, James Tien openly aired his displeasure of the skimpy political rewards meted out by Tung and advocated power sharing with the government.[2] Tien was also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from 2003 until 2014.

After one year, on 6 July 2003, Tien announced his resignation from the Executive Council, when his calls to delay the controversial legislation of the [Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23|Article 23]] of the Basic Law were rejected after more than 500,000 people marched against the legislation. His resignation ultimately led to the withdrawal of the legislation and break-up of the "ruling alliance" of the Chief Executive, causing his popularity and that of Liberal Party to surge. Capitalising the surge of popularity, Tien made his first attempt in the direct election by running in the New Territories East geographical constituency direct elections for the first time in the 2004 Legislative Council elections. In the 2005 Chief Executive election, the announcement that his ally Henry Tang had dropped out of the race was further bad news about for party. He initially said that he might stand for selection as Chief Executive, but ultimately did not.[3] Donald Tsang was uncontestedly elected in the election. In 2007, Tien supported Tsang's second term. Tsang appointed Tien to be the Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board after he was re-elected.

Tien lost his seat in the 2008 Legislative Council elections, when the Liberal Party lost all its geographical constituency seats, and he subsequently announced that he would not stand again for Legco. He also resigned as Chairman of the Liberal Party alongside Vice-Chairwoman Selina Chow who lost her seat in New Territories West.[4][5] After Tien's resignation, the Liberal Party was in the leadership crisis, as four of the seven Legislative Councillors quit the party over internal party disagreements. Miriam Lau eventually took over as Chairwoman and Tien was made Honorary Chairman in December 2010 after another internal party struggle involved with his brother Michael Tien and Vice-Chairman Tommy Cheung over the minimum wage legislation, which saw Michael quit the party as a result.

Second tenure in Legco[edit]

Tien threw his weight behind Henry Tang in the 2012 Chief Executive election. After it was clear that the Beijing authorities favoured Leung Chun-ying over Tang, Tien advocated his party to cast blank vote instead of voting for Leung. In September, Tien went back on his previous undertaking and successfully re-claimed the New Territories East seat in the 2012 Legislative Council elections. In May 2013, the party elected Tien to the new position of Leader of the Liberal Party.

Tien was one of the most vocal opponent of the Leung Chun-ying administration. During the 2014 Hong Kong protests, Tien called on Chief Executive Leung to resign, leading to the CPPCC hearing a call to eject him as a member.[6] Tien was formally stripped of his post at the meeting on 29 October, making him the first person in history to have received this sanction. Tien stepped down from his position as the Leader of the Liberal Party after the removal.[7]

In the 2016 Legislative Council election, James Tien ran a campaign against the second term of the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. He stood as a second candidate on his young party colleague Dominic Lee's ticket. The ticket gained 20,031 votes, around 3 per cent of the vote share and both of them were not elected. In the 2017 Chief Executive election, Tien again went against the tide, to support John Tsang whose candidacy was widely considered to be opposed by the Beijing government. He became the first member in the Election Committee to handed his nomination to Tsang. Tsang eventually received 365 votes, losing to Beijing-favoured Carrie Lam in the final election.


On 11 October 2007, it was reported that Tien had accepted MTRC CEO Chow Chung-kong's sincere apology after the latter backed Civic Party barrister Tanya Chan Suk-chong against Liberal Party lawyer and incumbent Mark Lin Man-kit in the district council election for the Peak district.[8]

Tien explained that Chow would have to bear all the political consequences for his choice of backing a rival party's candidate. Tien made clear that he was personally infuriated by Chow's unfriendly act despite the Liberal Party's loyalty and consistent support for the rail company.[8] Tien further stated that the MTRC would face probable dissent from Liberal members in future matters involving MTRC inside district councils.[9][10]

Tien backed down on 12 October 2007 by sincerely apologising to both Chow and the public.[11][12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1998年 大事紀要". Liberal Party. Archived from the original on 2 November 2004. 
  2. ^ Liu, Zhaojia; Lau, Siu-kai (2002). The First Tung Chee-hwa Administration: The First Five Years of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Chinese University Press. p. 29. 
  3. ^ "香港民主黨決定派人參選特首". RFA. 30 March 2005. 
  4. ^ Liberal Chairman James Tien steps downRTHK, 8 September 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
  5. ^ Pan Democrats Takes 19 Seats Tien Losses and Resigns As Chairman – RTHK, 8 September 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2008. (in Chinese)
  6. ^ James Tien faces CPPCC expulsion, RTHK, 28 October 2014
  7. ^ "Politician Who Called for Hong Kong Leader's Resignation Is Formally Penalized". The New York Times. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Democratic Party eyes legal action over Tien `threats'". The Standard. Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2007. 
  9. ^ Chow's Apology Accepted – Tien Archived 5 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. – RTHK news (in Chinese)
  10. ^ When Personal & Political Gains Become Paramount, Public Interest Goes Out The Window – Mingpao News (in Chinese)
  11. ^ Tien Withdraws Comments Against Chow's District Council Nomination Archived 5 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. – RTHK news (in Chinese)
  12. ^ Cable TV Hong Kong, 12 October 2007
  13. ^ "Tien apologises for comments about MTRC chief". RTHK news. 12 October 2007. Retrieved 12 October 2007. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Graham Cheng
Chairman of Hong Kong Productivity Council
Succeeded by
Kenneth Fang
Preceded by
Louis Leung Wing-on
Member of Central and Western District Council
Representative for Peak
Succeeded by
Mark Lin
Preceded by
Selina Chow
Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
Succeeded by
Peter Lam
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Stephen Cheong
Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Industrial (First)
Replaced by Provisional Legislative Council
New parliament Member of Provisional Legislative Council
Replaced by Legislative Council
Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Commercial (First)
Succeeded by
Jeffrey Lam
Preceded by
Wong Sing-chi
Member of Legislative Council
Representative for New Territories East
Succeeded by
Wong Sing-chi
New seat Member of Legislative Council
Representative for New Territories East
Succeeded by
Eunice Yung
Business positions
Preceded by
William Fung
Chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce
Succeeded by
Peter Sutch
Party political offices
Preceded by
Allen Lee
Chairperson of the Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Miriam Lau
New office Leader of the Liberal Party
Title next held by
Vincent Fang
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Stephen Ip
Recipients of the Gold Bauhinia Star
Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipients of the Gold Bauhinia Star
Succeeded by
Ambrose Lau
Recipients of the Gold Bauhinia Star