John Tsang

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The Honourable
John Tsang Chun-wah
John Tsang in Tehran.jpg
Tsang in Tehran in 2016
Financial Secretary of Hong Kong
Assumed office
1 July 2007
Chief Executive Donald Tsang
Leung Chun-ying
Preceded by Henry Tang
Secretary for Development
In office
12 July 2012 – 29 July 2012
Preceded by Mak Chai-kwong
Succeeded by Paul Chan
Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology
In office
4 August 2003 – 24 January 2006
Preceded by Henry Tang
Succeeded by Joseph Wong
Personal details
Born (1951-04-21) 21 April 1951 (age 65)
Hong Kong
Alma mater La Salle College
Stuyvesant High School
MIT School of Architecture and Planning
Boston State College
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Religion Roman Catholicism
John Tsang
Traditional Chinese 曾俊華
Simplified Chinese 曾俊华

John Tsang Chun-wah, GBM, JP (Chinese: 曾俊華; 21 April 1951) is the current Financial Secretary of Hong Kong. His responsibility is to assist the Chief Executive of Hong Kong in overseeing policy formulation and implementation in financial, monetary, economic, trade and employment matters. He exercises control over the Exchange Fund, with the assistance of the Monetary Authority. He is a member of the Executive Council.[1] In an annual budget speech, he outlines the move to any appropriation bill.

Early life and education[edit]

Tsang's great grandfather was from Taishan, Guangzhou. He made his fortune as a Chinese labour worked in San Francisco. His grandfather was a well-off Chinese physician-turned-businessman. His father, Tsang Chuek-ho, was the eldest children of eight. Graduated from normal schools, Tsang Chuek-ho and his wife planned to move to the United States, where his sister was living, through Hong Kong in the 1940s. While waiting for the immigration process, the family settled in Hong Kong and had four children. John Tsang, the eldest child, was born in Hong Kong on 21 April 1951.[2]

Tsang, a Roman Catholic, was a secondary school student at La Salle College in Hong Kong. In 1965 when he was 13, Tsang and his family moved to the United States. He first resided on the 8th Street in Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York City. He was enrolled to the Stuyvesant High School in the following year, from which he graduated in 1969.[3][4] Eric Holder, the first African-American Attorney General of the United States, was his classmate.

He then studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[3] He also holds a master's degree in bilingual education from Boston State College and a MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[3]


Through his teens and twenties, Tsang lived in the United States. In November 1982 he returned to Hong Kong after working with Boston Public School and joined the civil service, reportedly at the suggestion of Donald Tsang, with whom he became friends when they were at Harvard together.[5] His first position was a two-year stint as Assistant District Officer for Shatin.[6] He went on to positions in the former Finance Branch, Monetary Affairs Branch and the former Trade Department. From 1987 to 1992, he was first Administrative Assistant to then Financial Secretary, Sir Piers Jacobs.[4]

He was Assistant Director-General of Trade from 1992 to 1995 and Private Secretary to the former Governor, Chris Patten, from March 1995 to June 1997.[4] In July 1997, Tsang was appointed Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London. In 1999 he returned from London and assumed the office of Commissioner of Customs and Excise.[4] Before the Principal Officials Accountability System was introduced in July 2002, Tsang was Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands from 2001 to 2002.[7]

Tsang around the time of the WTO

From August 2003 Tsang was Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology.[7] In this role he was also Chair of the Sixth Ministerial Conference (MC6) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) held in Hong Kong from 13 to 18 December 2005.[5] For his outstanding performance in the WTO, he even earned praise from Chinese president Hu Jintao.[5]

Tsang then became the director of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong's Office, working directly for his friend Donald Tsang. He held the post from 2006 to June 2007.[5]

In 2007 Tsang became Financial Secretary of Hong Kong.[3]

Health concern[edit]

In 2009, Tsang suffered a health scare on his return from a G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. On 27 September he was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital with a coronary artery blockage and underwent an angioplasty operation. He recovered and was discharged from hospital on 3 October, assuring the media that the operation would not affect his work.[8][9][10]


Cyberport defence[edit]

In 1998 and 1999 Donald Tsang, representing the Hong Kong government, met with Richard Li, chairman of Pacific Century Group regarding the Cyberport construction project.[11] On 2 March 1999 both signed a document that said PCG would occupy 20–50% of the total office space within the first five years of Cyberport. Under a "take-up guarantee", PCG was required to pay the 50% rent if not enough tenants showed up. In exchange, PCG would be allowed to occupy as much as 50% of the government-owned IT infrastructure.[11][12]

In 2000 the take-up was suddenly dropped by the government.[11] (Cyberport struggled to attract tenants, and was becoming unpopular with the dot-com bubble problem.) Democratic Party member Lee Wing-tat demanded that records of meetings between Donald Tsang and Richard Li should be revealed to show PCG was not colluded with the government. John Tsang strongly defended Donald Tsang to not reveal anything.[11][12]

2011 budget demonstration[edit]

Tsang at a Financial Times event, 2013

On 23 February 2011, John Tsang delivered the annual 2011–2012 HK Budget summary.[13] The HK government was under pressure to give some of the money back to the community. After trying to move the surplus into a Mandatory Provident Fund, citizens began complaining. About 10,000 protesters showed up at Central to demonstrate. The mismanagement of the funds opened a number of controversies.[14]

ILSP controversy[edit]

In January 2011 HK government's IT chief information officer Jeremy Godfrey stepped down from his job for "personal reasons". On 10, May 2011 in a letter to the Legislative Council, he said those personal reasons were not real, and that the real reason he quit was related to Elizabeth Tse (謝曼怡) and John Tsang.[15] It turns out there were arguments over the implementation of the Internet Learning Support Program (ILSP). It was revealed that Tse and Tsang forced the HK$220 million contract to be awarded to a company called iProA. The company turned out to be founded by Elizabeth Quat, a member of the pro-Beijing DAB.[16] Tsang responded that the accusations were ridiculous and absurd.[16] Godfrey has since stated that Quat herself had nothing to do with the ILSP controversy,[17] but said the IT decision was politicised.[16]


  1. ^ "" Member of executive council. Retrieved on 27 March 2011.
  2. ^ Tsang, John (10 April 2016). "奇遇". Financial Secretary's Office. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Mr John Tsang Chun-wah, GBM, JP, Financial Secretary". GovHK. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department – Issue 6 (1999 June)". Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d "John Tsang will get WTO reward with new posting". The Standard. Hong Kong. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Civil Service Newsletter Issue 60". Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Three HK officials named to new posts". Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "Statement by Government Spokesman Issued at HKT 01:11". Press Releases. 28 September 2009. Archived from the original on 4 October 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  9. ^ "John Tsang recovers, leaves hospital". Information Services Department, HKSAR. 3 October 2009. Archived from the original on 4 October 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  10. ^ 財政司司長會見傳媒談話內容(只有中文)(附短片). 香港特區政府新聞公報 (in Chinese). 3 October 2009. Archived from the original on 4 October 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c d "SAR firm on Cyberport deal secrecy – Metro Section". The Standard. Hong Kong. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "" Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting. Retrieved on 27 March 2011.
  13. ^ "" Legco finance committee to scrutinize the 2011–12 budget next week. Retrieved on 27 March 2011.
  14. ^ "HK Citizens Protest Against Government's $6000 Giveaway | AX3 | Global Asian Lifestyle + Pop Culture Webzine". 6 March 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  15. ^ "Former top official warned in net row". The Standard. Hong Kong. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  16. ^ a b c "Whistle-blower tells of HK$220m deal pressure". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  17. ^ Godfrey, Jeremy. "ILSP selection: No complaint about Elizabeth Quat". Retrieved 28 May 2011. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Gordon Siu
Secretary for Planning and Lands
Succeeded by
Michael Suen
as Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands
Preceded by
Henry Tang
Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology
Succeeded by
Joseph Wong
Financial Secretary of Hong Kong
Government offices
Preceded by
Lam Woon-kwong
Director of the Chief Executive's Office
Succeeded by
Norman Chan
Civic offices
Preceded by
Li Shu-fai
Commissioner of Customs and Excise
Succeeded by
Raymond Wong
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Carrie Lam
Chief Secretary for Administration
Hong Kong order of precedence
Financial Secretary of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Rimsky Yuen
Secretary for Justice