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Walking the Tycoons’ Rope: How ambition drove a poor boy from Ningbo to compete with the richest men of Hong Kong and Singapore

$17.95

by Robert Wang

Robert Wang fled the Chinese civil war at the age of five and came to Hong Kong with nothing. The colony was a harsh place in the 1950s and 1960s. But he was determined to rise to the top – and through hard work and resolve, he got there. The law firm he founded grew into the city’s fifth largest.

With the clock ticking towards the handover of Hong Kong to China, and no one knowing what the end of British rule would bring, Robert hatched an audacious scheme to safeguard the fortunes of Hong Kong’s richest tycoons. He would convince Singapore to take them in.

At last, he was walking with kings: dealing one-on-one with the most powerful businessmen and politicians of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. It was an exhilarating experience – but climbing so high has its dangers. After unwittingly offending the wrong power brokers, he was cast aside and left to defend himself against the damnation of corporate rumours.

Robert’s rags-to-riches story offers a rare look inside the unimaginably wealthy world of Hong Kong’s property tycoons; but also, as he tells the tale of four generations of his family, we learn that it is the traditional values of tolerance, filial piety and loyalty which endure.

“A riveting read.” – Sir Run Run Shaw, Founder, Shaw Prize

Look inside this book
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Description

Robert Wang fled the Chinese civil war at the age of five and came to Hong Kong with nothing. The colony was a harsh place in the 1950s and 1960s. But he was determined to rise to the top – and through hard work and resolve, he got there. The law firm he founded grew into the city’s fifth largest. With the clock ticking towards the handover of Hong Kong to China, and no one knowing what the end of British rule would bring, Robert hatched an audacious scheme to safeguard the fortunes of Hong Kong’s richest tycoons. He would convince Singapore to take them in.

At last, he was walking with kings: dealing one-on-one with the most powerful businessmen and politicians of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. It was an exhilarating experience – but climbing so high has its dangers. After unwittingly offending the wrong power brokers, he was cast aside and left to defend himself against the damnation of corporate rumours. Robert’s rags-to-riches story offers a rare look inside the unimaginably wealthy world of Hong Kong’s property tycoons; but also, as he tells the tale of four generations of his family, we learn that it is the traditional values of tolerance, filial piety and loyalty which endure.

MEDIA ATTENTION

I was born poor, was looked down upon by others all through my childhood – but I felt this burning desire to make good if only to put a stop to all the prejudice I had endured. My ambition drove me to climb up to dizzy heights. I dealt with the tycoons of Hong Kong and Singapore on a one-on-one basis only to be struck down when I committed what can only be described as a trivial ‘sin’.” Robert Wang was interviewed by Time Out Hong Kong

“A cautionary tale of greed and ambition and also a fascinating look back at a Hong Kong that no longer exists – that tantalizing, Westernized city of dreams for mainland immigrants who managed to escape the Spartan world of communism under Mao Zedong.
… Ironically, Suntec, Wang’s biggest accomplishment, leads to his humiliating downfall as he is outmaneuvered by the board’s chairman in his quest for more power, and then manages to offend one of Singapore’s richest men; at the same time, his marriage to Elaine is falling apart.
… publication could not be more timely, coinciding as it does with a growing resentment among ordinary people toward the tycoon class in Hong Kong, which now has the largest wealth gap in the developed world.”
Asia Times

“A rare look into the world of Hong Kong’s property tycoons and how ruthless they can be.” – South China Morning Post

Hear Robert talk about his story on RTHK Radio 3

Walking the Tycoons’ Rope offers a Peeping Tom-like view of Hong Kong’s most well-known tycoons and their unlovely world. Shudder-inducing glimpses into familiar personalities, business dealings, family relationships and value systems turn this book – like all well-documented train wrecks – into truly compulsive reading. … this excellent memoir has enduring social history value.” – South China Morning Post

“The insider’s guide to understanding Hong Kong’s tycoon scene.” – Hong Kong Tatler

Robert Wang has a gift for picking out the most relevant, interesting and entertaining anecdotes, though the real situations leading to the end of his Singaporean dream are difficult for an outsider to understand. Nevertheless, Walking the Tycoons’ Rope is a surprising and unlikely page turner.” – iTV-Asia

Additional information

Dimensions 140 x 216 mm
Pages

384

Binding

Paperback

Illustrations

colour photographs

About the author

Robert Wang was born in Ningbo, China. Shortly after his birth his parents moved to Shanghai by crossing the Hangzhou Bay at the mouth of the Yangtze River and from there eventually emigrated to Hong Kong.

He is a solicitor by training and, like many of his clansmen from Ningbo, an entrepreneur at heart. He founded the firm of Robert W.H. Wang & Co., Solicitors & Notaries, in the late 1970s and grew it to be one of Hong Kong’s largest, with offices also in Singapore and London. He is an Honorary Fellow of Queen Mary of London University, his alma mater.