Ann became part of the Hong Kong establishment and an adviser to the forming Far Eastern Economic Review. He always commented on my regional articles in the Review, like my piece in the 1960s "Tug-of-War on The Korean Peninsula." Re-reading that article, I should have stopped right there. Not so much has changed in obdurate Korea.
Over the years, Ann did his best to salvage the situation between China and Britain. He was after all, Chinese and wanted the best outcome. If he had been 20 years younger he would have been Hong Kong's first CEO instead of Tang Chee-hwa. Ann was known for treating his workers well.
Ann attended my wedding banquet in the Ambassador Hotel--now torn down--which was located behind the present Sheraton Towers. I attended his son Rupert's wedding, one of the most lavish parties ever staged at the Miramar Hotel. John Yue was there, beaming because the tuxedo he tailored for me fit so well.
Ann did his best for Hong Kong and served on the Basic Law drafting committee.
In helping to shape the Review into what in those days (1960s) was Asia's most prestigious and intellectual business-economic journal, Ann made his contribution to a free press.
The point is, in giving glimpses of just two of my old friends in Hong Kong, there are several ways to address the problem. John Yue and T.K. Ann came out of Shanghai as capitalists. Both believed in an emerging great China.
So do I; but if China becomes great, it won't be under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party as we know it today. The party will have to reform radically and lean toward the type of democracy, which is seen on Taiwan.
One of the ways to do this will be in the realm of press freedoms; development in a straight line from the old Review which was Ann's pride and joy instead of a straight line from Xinhua News Agency and the People's Daily, which are burdens to the intellectual equanimity of Ann and a lot of other Hong Kongers.
There used to be a saying on the China Coast: "You'll never get anywhere betting against Shanghai." In the 1930s and 1940s Shanghai was the greatest city in Asia and clearly the elder brother to Hong Kong. It was also, by the way, the founding city of the Communist Party but also a key base for Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists. In short, quite a place.
The Communists took over in 1949 and made Shanghai into a great gray glob from which status it has only begun to recover in the 1980s. On my first visit to Shanghai in 1973 I was dismayed at the "disappearance of greatness."
Meanwhile, Hong Kong--spurred by men of dreams like T.K Ann and John Yue-- prospered. By the 1960s Hong Kong had inherited the mantle of the city with the most moxie on the China Coast.