George Chao, one of the most notable figures among Hong Kong’s shipping dynasties died on Wednesday 20 July at the age of 76. The president of Wah Kwong Maritime and Transport Holdings Limited had been battling a long illness.
As the youngest son of Wah Kwong founder T Y Chao, Mr Chao joined the company in the mid-1960s and focused on the commercial and financial aspects of the company where he built up strong relationships that the company maintains to this day.
Above and beyond his duties as chairman Mr Chao, maintained the company’s prominence in the Hong Kong shipping community as well as fulfilling a number of roles in important shipping bodies such as Bureau Veritas and the Asian Shipowners Forum Insurance committee.
In 2002, Wah Kwong welcomed the third generation of the Chao family into the business with Sabrina Chao, George’s eldest daughter, joining the company and in 2007 being appointed Vice Chairman of Wah Kwong Maritime Transport Holdings with George Chao as Chairman. In 2012, Sabrina assumed the role of Chairman with George becoming President.
Among the roles that he undertook with enthusiasm and great effectiveness was:
- Chairman of The Bureau Veritas Asia and Australia Committee
- Chairman of The Maritime Services Training Board
- Chairman of the Port Welfare Committee of Hong Kong
- Chairman of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association
- Member of the Hong Kong International Maritime Centre
“Mr George Chao dedicated his entire career to Wah Kwong and the shipping industry,” Wah Kwong said in an email addressed to family and friends breaking the news to them of the shipping magnate’s passing.
“His contribution to the industry spanned a large spectrum,” the company added.
In 2010, Mr Chao led a coalition of maritime industry groups including hong Kong shipowners and seafarers to establish a policy bureau to strengthen Hong Kong’s position as an international maritime hub.
In June of 2010 Mr Chao made several proposals for government action including the creation of a dedicated shipping minister or the upgrading of the Marine department into a policy bureau.
The Alliance including Mr Chao warned at the time that while Singapore and Shanghai aggresively expanded their status as maritime hubs and Hong Kong continued to do nothing, ultimately it would lose its status as a regional maritime hub.
Some six years later Hong Kong finally has a policy bureau in the form of the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board established in April this year with Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung as chairman.
Hong Kong Maritime Hub would like to extend its condolences to the Chao family.