Hong Kong Cement Manufacturing (香港水泥)
York Lo: Hong Kong Cement Manufacturing (香港水泥)
Left: present day HK Cement plant at Ngau Kok Wan in Tsing Yi; Right: The original HK Cement plant in Tsing Leng Tsui in Tsing Yi looking in from Tsing Yi Bay
Established in 1962 by the principals of Taiwanese cement industry leader Taiwan Cement Corporation (台灣水泥, TCC) and connected businessmen, Hong Kong Cement is the second largest cement manufacturer in Hong Kong after Green Island Cement and has operated on Tsing Yi since inception.
P.S. Lim (right) and C.F. Koo, the first chairman and managing director of Taiwan Cement and HK Cement
Taiwan Cement was founded in 1946 by the Taiwan provincial government and the KMT regime’s Executive Yuan Resources Committee (行政院資源委員會) through the takeover of several cement factories formed during the Japanese occupation era with aids and loans from the UN, US and Canada. In 1954, the KMT regime decided to privatize Taiwan Cement and three of the four richest families from the Japanese colonial era – the Lims, the Koos and the Chens and several other entrepreneurs gained control of the firm through swapping some of their land holdings with the government and built the firm into a leading cement producer in Asia. The driving forces of Taiwan Cement (and HK Cement) in its first five decades under private ownership were its first chairman Lim Peck-siu (林柏壽, 1895-1986, hereafter referred to as “P.S.”) and its first managing director (and later chairman) Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫, 1917-2005, hereafter refer to as “C.F.”). Other directors of Taiwan Cement and HK Cement in the early years include vice chairman Chen Chi-ching (陳啟清, 1903-1989, head of the Chen family of Kaohsiung who were sugar kings of Taiwan and controlled the local Coca Cola bottler), P.S. Lim’s cousin Lin Hsiung-hsiang (林熊祥, 1896-1973), Taiwan Glass Group founder Lin Yu-chia (林玉嘉, 1916-2015), Goldsun Group founder and asbestos king Lin Teng (林燈, 1914-1992), godfather of the Taiwanese stock market Chen Feng-yuan (陳逢源, 1893-1982) and Yuen Foong Yu (永豐餘) Group founder and paper magnate Ho Chuan (何傳).
Left: article about the formation of HK Cement by Taiwanese businessmen in 1962 (WKYP, 1952-10-27); Right: Koo Chen-fu telling the press about the relative strength of Taiwan for industrial development vs. Hong Kong in 1965 (WKYP, 1965-12-18)
The housing boom in the late 1950s and early 1960s in HK made it a very attractive market for cement. In the 1950s, 90% of cement in Hong Kong was imported, mostly from Japan thanks to its low cost and some from the mainland and Taiwan. Already having existing demand and given little competition (Green Island Cement being the only player at the time), the principals of Taiwan Cement decided to establish HK Cement Manufacturing in 1962 with HK$5 million in capital and built a plant in Tsing Leng Tsui (青嶺嘴) on Tsing Yee island. The plant had capacity to produce up to 120,000 tons of cement per year utilizing clinkers imported from Taiwan Cement and 30% of its output were exported.
Aside from business rationale, both Lim and Koo had close ties to Hong Kong. The fourth-generation scion of the famous Lin/Lim Ben-yuan family (林本源家族) from Ban-Chiau (板橋), P.S. Lim was born in Amoy and inherited enormous wealth at a young age. He was educated at the London School of Economics and lived in HK during the Sino-Japanese War to avoid collaboration with the Japanese before returning to Taiwan after the War. P.S. Lim’s wife Chan King-chi (陳琼枝) came from HK where her father Chan Mong-tsang (陳望曾, 1853-1929), a former high-ranking imperial official in Kwangtung of Taiwanese descent, had fled after the 1911 revolution and her brother Chan Shu-kai (陳樹階, 1893-1972) was a long-time resident of Hong Kong. Chan Shu-kai’s daughters include Pauline Chan Chiu-kam (陳蕉琴, 1915-2011, making her a niece of P.S. Lim), prominent industrialist in HK as the partner of Haking Wong in W. Haking Enterprise, maker of the famous Halina cameras; Veronica Chan Yiu-kam MBE (陳瑤琴) mother of Asian women football and wife of Dr. Bertcham Chiu But-york (趙不弱) and, Chan May-kan (陳美琴), the second wife of the famous painter Zao Wou-ki (趙無極). In wartime Saigon, P.S. built a large rice mill with his eldest son in law and his second daughter Lim Hong-Oun (林紅芸) married Pierre Khien-Piau Huibonhoa (黃慶杓), who was educated in France and received his masters of law from the University of Paris. The Lims had been friendly with the Huibonhoas, the richest family of Vietnam since the early 20th century as both families kept residences in Amoy in their native Fukien province. The Huibonhoas derived their unique surnames from the family patriarch, Pierre’s grandfather Jean Baptiste Hui Bon-hoa (黃文華, 1845-1901), who moved to Saigon from Fukien at the age of 20. Hui Bon-hoa and his three sons (Thang-Hung 仲訓, Thang-Phien 仲評 and Pierre’s father Thang-Chanh 仲讃) built a great fortune through pawn shops and real estate which include the famous Majestic Hotel and the Hui-Bon-Hoa complex (the company building plus three houses for the three branches of the family – 2 of the buildings houses the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum today) in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). Pierre and his wife began living in HK in the 1950s and he served on the board of HK Cement from 1977 to 2006. Surrounded by large number of relatives, P.S. Lim and his wife spent the final years of their lives in HK.
While most HK people are familiar with C.F. Koo from his work in cross-straits talks in his later life, most are unfamiliar with the fact that he had lived in Hong Kong from 1949 to 1952 during the period when he was black-listed by the KMT regime in Taipei and his two oldest children (both daughters) were born in HK. After the establishment of HK Cement, he visited HK often for business reasons or in transit for his international travels.
Left: Chan Kee-hwa (right) meeting with KMT president C.K. Yen in Taiwan. Chan was a friend of Yen since the 1940s; Right: Chan Kee-hwa unveiling the foundation stone of Peace Mansion (惠安大廈) on Tai Hang Road in HK, a property he developed, in 1958
The directors of HK Cement in its early years include Lim, Koo, Lim’s son in law Pierre Hui-Bon-Hoa, the Taiwan Cement directors Lin Hsiung-hsiang, Lin Yu-chia, Lin Teng, Chen Feng-yuan and Ho Chuan and two HK businessmen – Chan Kee-hwa (曾紀華, 1913-1997) and Tso Tsun-on (曹峻安,1904-1985).
A native of Huey An in Fukien province (hence many of his companies include the word “Huey”), Chan Kee-hwa lost his father at the age of 9 and moved to Burma with his older brother Chan Kee-tong (曾紀棠) and younger brother Chan Kee-In (曾紀殷) where they made their initial fortune in the rice trade. During the War, he built a pharmaceutical lab in the wartime capital of Chungking and gained access to the senior levels of the KMT regime. In 1946, Chan returned to Rangoon with his brothers and established Hueys Tobacco, which eventually became the manufacturer of the most popular cigarette brand in Burma. After businesses were nationalized in Burma in 1962, Chan moved his base to HK where he started many companies in a variety of industries – Huey An Rice Co, Huey Tai Investment Co (惠泰置業), Hai An Shipping (海安船務), HK Paper Mills (香港造紙廠) and Fairyoung Holdings (惠揚控股). He was also a founding director of HK Chinese Bank with industrialists such as Sir S.N. Chau and D.Y. Pong (see article on Sik Yuen Rubber Shoes) and in Taiwan, he had invested in Ambassador Hotel, Taiwan Glass Industrial Corporation and United World Chinese Bank (世華聯合商業銀行, now known as Cathay United Bank). At his funeral in 1997, the pallbearers and guests included C.F. Koo, Li Ka-shing and Tung Chee-hwa.
Left: obituary of Tso Tsun-on in 1985 (WKYP, 1985-2-17); Right: Tso Tsun-on with all his medals
Tso Tsun-on OBE JP was the son of Tso Seen-wan CBE JP (曹善允, 1868-1953), prominent lawyer and community leader in early 20th century HK. Aside from HK Cement, Tsun-on served as director of China Entertainment & Land (which owned the King’s Theatre) and also owned his own stock brokerage at the exclusive HK Stock Exchange. He was best known for his longtime involvement with the Police Reserve.
The day to day management of HK Cement historically has been with managers sent by TCC from Taiwan, such as manager Chen Chi-liang (陳繼良) in the early years and Chen Chi-hsiung (陳吉雄), who joined TCC in 1966 and served as president of HK Cement from 1993 to 2005. Aside from local production of cement, HK Cement also served as the distributor of TCC’s products in Southeast Asia.
Koo Chen-fu and wife (left) received by General Robert S.L. Ho and wife (right) in HK in 1969 (KSEN, 1969-6-22)
A view of Tsing Leng Tsui and Cheung Ching Estate from Tsing Chau (Pillar Island) in 1979. Hong Kong Cement Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Tai Sang Container are seen in the foreground, Cheung Ching Estate is behind them. (HK Public Libraries)
Over time, the waterfront area in Tsing Yi where HK Cement operated become more residential and driven by environmental concerns from the tenants of nearby Greenfield Garden, HK Cement moved out of the Tsing Leng Tsui to Ngau Kok Wan in the northwestern part of Tsing Yi Island. The former HK Cement site at Tsing Leng Tsui was re-developed into Grand Horizon (海欣花園) by SHK Properties in 2000 and the surrounding area has been reclaimed.
Under the leadership of C.F. Koo’s second son Leslie Koo Cheng-yun (辜成允, 1954-2017), TCC continued to grow. In 1997, the HK operations of TCC was listed as TCC HK Cement Holdings (later renamed TCC International Holdings) on the Stock Exchange of HK with former HK senior official Donald Liao (who is of Taiwanese descent) and Shan Weijian of Newbridge Capital as independent directors. Through TCC International, the TCC group expanded in southern China and controlled Xuzhou Conch Cement (徐州海螺水泥) at one point. It also owns HK Concrete Co Ltd and 50% of Quon Hing Concrete in HK in partnership with New World Group. In 2017, TCC International became a wholly owned subsidiary of TCC and was delisted.
Sources (other than those quoted above):
This article was first posted on 6th May 2019.
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