The newly appointed Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung has stated that he does not have right of abode in Taiwan, despite the fact that he was born there.

It is not known whether Yang owns a Taiwanese passport. Yang was a US citizen, as he lived and worked in the US for many years. He gave up his American passport before becoming the chief of the Innovation and Technology Bureau on Friday morning.

“My appointment is completely in line with the Basic Law. I have right of abode in Hong Kong. This is the only place that I have right of abode. I do not have right of abode for other places, including Taiwan,” Yang said when he met reporters after his appointment.

Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung was appointed as Secretary for Innovation and Technology.
Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung was appointed as Secretary for Innovation and Technology. Photo: Gov HK.

Taiwanese passport

“The principal officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of the Region with no right of abode in any foreign country and have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 15 years,” states Article 61 of the Basic Law.

If Yang did have a Taiwanese passport, he would not have had to give it up in order to acquire a US passport as both countries allow dual nationality.

However, one is not allowed to give up their Taiwanese passport unless they have completed military service in Taiwan, according to the Article 12 of Taiwan’s Nationality Act.

Whether or not Taiwan is counted as a foreign country by the Basic Law is also questionable.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So. File Photo: Stand News.

Foreign passports of officials

The nationality of Hong Kong officials was a heated topic back in 2008, when Gregory So Kam-leung, still a Canadian citizen at the time, was appointed as the Undersecretary for Commerce and Economic Development.

The then Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung said in the Legislative Council that “principal officials” listed in the Basic Law do not include undersecretaries.

However, So and other undersecretaries later did in fact give up their foreign passports.

Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung
Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung. File

Unfilled positions

Meanwhile, the Undersecretary and the Political Assistant for the new Innovation and Technology Bureau have yet to be appointed.

Yang said the two positions will soon be appointed.

“Even if they are not appointed yet, I have started to work on many things, thanks to the Chief Executive appointing me as a member of the Executive Council, I could start working on the early stages,” he said.

He added that there were nine aspects of work he will focus on, including the push for the re-industrialisation of Hong Kong and researching the feasibility of government and private companies investing in startup companies together.

He added that he believed the policies could be completed even though his term ends in June 2017.


Yang graduated from the California Institute of Technology in the United States in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Applied Mathematics, followed by a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University in 1978 and 1982 respectively.

He worked as a senior design engineer for Intel Corporation in 1978 and subsequently as a strategic management consultant for Bain & Company. He returned to Hong Kong in 1983 and pursued his career as Executive Director and Deputy Group Managing Director of Shell Electric Mfg (Holdings) Limited. He became senior consultant and director of several venture capital and private equity investment firms in 2002. In 2003 he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited. He was Executive Vice President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University from 2010 to February 2015. He was appointed as Non-official Member of the Executive Council and Advisor to the Chief Executive on Innovation and Technology in March 2015.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.