Chip Tsao

Chip Tsao
Born 17 August 1958 (1958-08-17) (age 53)
Hong Kong
Alma mater Pui Kui Middle School
Lingnan Secondary School
University of Warwick
London School of Economics

Chip Tsao (born August 17, 1958), also known by his pen name To Kit and epithet First Wit of Hong Kong(香港第一才子), is a multilingual Hong Kong-based columnist, broadcaster, and writer. He is well-known for his sarcasm and wry sense of humour.[1]


Family and education

Chip Tsao
Chinese 曹捷
To Kit
Traditional Chinese 陶傑
Simplified Chinese 陶杰

Tsao's family traces their roots back to Guangxi province.[2] His father was the vice chief editor of Ta Kung Pao, a leftwing newspaper in Hong Kong, whilst his mother was also an editor of the same paper. His maternal grandfather was a journalist of the Pearl River Daily. He was raised in Hong Kong's Wanchai district, and began reading early in his life. To attended Pui Kiu Middle School and later Lingnan Secondary School in Hong Kong. During this time, his writing was once published in The New Evening Post. He obtained a Diploma in International Relations from the London School of Economics and in 1980 a BA in English and European Literature from the University of Warwick.[3] However, he states that he never thought about becoming a writer in his youth, and that his parents discouraged him from this career because they felt it would be dangerous.[1]

Tsao is married and has two children. He enjoys reading Chinese poetry to his children.[1] However, Hong Kong media have reported on his alleged infidelity to his wife. The proprietor of an hourly motel in Kowloon Tong claims Tsao is a regular customer there, and in 2004, a reporter for East Week tailed Tsao and an unidentified young woman to said hotel and took pictures of them. Tsao reportedly attempted to flee the scene with his head wrapped in toilet paper to obscure his face while the woman stood in front of the reporter's car to block pursuit.[4][5]


Tsao began his journalism career in the United Kingdom as a reporter for the BBC and Radio Television Hong Kong.[2] Then, famous writer Jin Yong (Louis Cha) invited him to write a regular column for Ming Pao about his experiences living abroad. It was at this time that he began to use his pen name To Kit.[1] The name of his column in Ming Pao, 'The Golden Venture' (黃金冒險號) (a.k.a 金色冒險號 by the Chinese press), derives from the name of a vessel that took Chinese illegal immigrants to the United States in 1993.[citation needed] His first book, Alongside Thames, was published in 1995.[1]

Tsao later he joined a team of broadcasters to host a weekly current affairs programme on RTHK named 'Free as Wind' (講東講西). In September 2003, he switched to the Commercial Radio Hong Kong to host a similar daily radio entitled 'Summit' (光明頂, literally 'the Peak of Light').[citation needed]

Tsao currently writes for Apple Daily and HK Magazine.[citation needed]

Tsao is not without his controversies. His status as the premier writer of Hong Kong is often challenged, one example being a piece by Rosetta Lui and Perry Lam in the December 2007 issue of Muse: "Some 15 or 20 years from now, the books of Chip Tsao... if they are talked about at all, will most probably be used as anecdotal evidence to illustrate how dumbed-down our city's culture has become since the 1997 return to Chinese sovereignty. His essays are always funny, sometimes lyrical but almost never ruminative."[6]

Political viewpoints

Hong Kong politics

Tsao first began writing about Hong Kong public affairs in a column for English-language newspaper Eastern Express. He is often perceived as pro-British , and has been accused of looking down on China.[1]

Accusations of racism

Tsao has faced various accusations of racism for his English-language writings. In October 2005, an article he wrote for the South China Morning Post entitled "Have Hong Kong girls stopped looking for Mr White?", sparked accusations that he promoted discrimination and was jealous of white men in Hong Kong. Tsao responded that he was merely being sarcastic and provocative, repeating themes which were often discussed in Chinese media, and accused his critics themselves of being racist and lacking the ability to "read between the lines".[7]

On March 27, 2009, an article of Tsao's entitled "The War at Home" was published in the free HK Magazine.[8] In it, he wrote that the Philippines was unworthy of claiming the Spratly Islands from China because "as a nation of servants, you don't flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter."[9] Many Filipinos decried his article as racist, discriminatory, and demeaning, and the Philippine government declared him an "undesirable alien" as a result.[10] His writings provoked negative reactions from various Philippine legislators; Senator Pia Cayetano stated that "instead of contributing to intelligent discussions on ways to resolve the Spratlys dispute, Tsao only succeeded in eliciting hatred and sowing more confusion not only among Filipinos but maybe even among his fellow Chinese who are not aware of the intricacies of the issue", while Parañaque Congressman Roilo Golez refused to accept Tsao's apology for his article, and challenged him to a boxing match.[11][12] On March 30, 2009, HK Magazine issued an apology for the offense Tsao's article had caused.[13] The following day, Tsao subsequently admitted his wrongdoing and apologized to the Philippine government and its people in an interview aired over Hong Kong’s ATV. He said, "I realized that I had crossed the line. I now offer my public apology." He has also indicated, however, that the article was meant as satire, and that it "was never intended to be insulting to the Filipino domestic workers."[14]


Tsao's work, both on radio and in his columns, concentrates on the following subjects:

  • Changes in governance of Hong Kong prior to and following the transfer of sovereignty to China
  • The essence of classical Chinese and Western civilization
  • Difference between Chinese and Westerners (particular in terms of politics and lifestyle)
  • The 'peasant mentality' of the Chinese
  • Films
  • Prominent women (he wrote a column on the achievements of well-known Chinese women in Ming Pao Monthly between 1998 and 2003)


Major works by Chip Tsao:

Title Publication date ISBN
*黃金冒險號 (The Golden Venture) October 1998 ISBN 962-451-371-6
*再見蘇絲黃 (Adieu, Suzie Wong) January 1999 ISBN 962-451-527-1
*不給一口釘 (Don't Give a Damn) February 1999 ISBN 962-451-483-6
*馬戲班主走了之後 (After the Circus Owner was Gone) February 1999 ISBN 962-451-553-0
*日暮荒老的地平線上 (On the Ageing Horizon) July 1999 ISBN 962-451-597-2
*名人學語文 - 訪問系列 (Celebrities Learn Languages – an Interview Series) July 1999 ISBN 962-85603-1-X
*香港這杯雞尾酒 (Hong Kong the cocktail) September 1999 ISBN 962-451-573-5
*中國化的魚眼睛 (The Sinified Eyes of a Fish) December 1999 ISBN 962-451-583-2
*泰晤士河畔 (Alongside Thames) January 2000 ISBN 962-451-368-6
*因為它在那裡 (Because It's There) January 2000 ISBN 962-451-620-0
*權力的地圖 (The Map of Power) April 2000 ISBN 962-451-461-5
*颱風和島的約會 (The Date of a Typhoon and an Isle) March 2001 ISBN 962-451-674-X
*偉大的十字街頭 (The Great Crisscross Streets) June 2001 ISBN 962-451-659-6
*流芳頌 (“Ode to the Famed”) June 2001 ISBN 962-973-544-X
*名人學語文 - 訪談系列第二輯 (Celebrities Learn Languages – an Interview Series II) June 2001 ISBN 962-85603-2-8
*那一頭是甚麼景色 (What’s the View over There?) July 2001 ISBN 962-451-699-5
*香港,你要活下去! (Hong Kong, Never Say Die!) October 2001 ISBN 962-451-702-9
*香港,你要爭口氣 (Hong Kong, Make a Good Show) April 2002 ISBN 962-451-719-3
*天涯遠望的焦點 (The Focus from Faraway) July 2002 ISBN 962-451-722-3
*滿香園的一朵朵笑靨 (The Smiling Faces in a Fragrant Garden) August 2002 ISBN 962-451-719-3
*思考在命運之上 (Fate for Thought) October 2002 ISBN 962-451-736-3
*有光的地方 (A Place Where There is Light) July 2003 ISBN 962-451-760-6
*風流花相 (Risqué Expressions) July 2003 ISBN 962-451-759-2
*圖騰下的銀河 (The Galaxy below the Totem) November 2003 ISBN 962-451-800-9
*魚的哲學 (Philosophy of Fish) January 2004 ISBN 962-451-776-2
*男女關係 2 (Love Affairs 2) co-written, April 2004 ISBN 962-86993-3-4
*自戀紅燭 (Self-intoxicated in a Red Candle) May 2004 ISBN 962-451-805-X
*石點頭 ─ 鍾逸傑回憶錄 (Feeling the Stones — Remembering Sir David Akers-Jones) June 2004 ISBN 962-209-664-6
*無眠在世紀末 (Sleepless at the End of a Century) July 2004 ISBN 962-451-831-9
*她是他的一場宿命 (She is his destiny) July 2004 ISBN 962-451-819-X
*男女關係 3 (Love Affairs 3) co-written, July 2004 ISBN 988-97754-5-X
*大偶像 (Great Idol) December 2004 ISBN 988-98002-6-8
*迷宮三千祭 (3000 Worships to A Labyrinth) December 2004 ISBN 962-451-872-6
*霓虹花憶 (In Search of Neon-like Sweet Remembrance) February 2005 ISBN 9624518831
*那一夜星斗 (Stars of that Night) May 2005 ISBN 9624518459
*她把靈魂銘刻在水上 (She Inscribed her Soul on the Water's Surface) June 2005 ISBN 9628872036
*國度的零時 (Regime at Midnight) July 2005 ISBN 9624519188
*峰青夕陽紅 : 陶傑星期天評論集
(Summit in Green; Setting Sun, Red: Collection of To Kit's Sunday Critiques)
July 2005 ISBN 9889860945
*青木瓜之戀 (Taste the Feel of Love by Green Papaya) October 2005 ISBN 9624519374
*天神的微笑 (The Grin of Deities) April 2006 ISBN 9624519536
*黑嶺魔宮 (Temple of Doom on the Dark Summit) July 2006 ISBN 9624519749
*MK愚樂圈 (Great Idol II: Stupid Showbiz Mong Kok Style)[15] July 2006 ISBN 9889877325
*歷史和地理間的沉思 (Meditation between History and Geography) December 2006 ISBN 9789882160101
*快樂鄉的一天 (One Day in a Joyful Hometown) May 2007 ISBN 9789882160330
*莎士比亞的安魂曲 (Shakespeare's Requiem) July 2007 ISBN 9789882160378
*海豚男的終極夜空 (The Ultimate Night Sky of Dolphin Boys) October 2007 ISBN 9789882160590
*芳菲花田 (Fragrance-billowing Field of Flowers) December 2007 ISBN 9789882160705
*天國的凱歌 (Song of Triumph of Heaven) July 2008 ISBN 9789882160934
*恭敬有罪──陶傑短評 (Deference is Guilt - Comments in Brief by Chip Tsao) Oct 2008 ISBN 9789881783516
*搔背有趣──陶傑短評 (Back-scratching is Interesting - Comments in Brief by Chip Tsao) Nov 2008 ISBN 9789881783523
*乳房裏的異世 (Extraordinary World inside Breasts) Dec 2008 ISBN 9789882161214
*暗夜寇丹 (Nail Varnish in the Night) Apr 2009 ISBN 9789882161382
*流金千蕊 (Golden Buds) July 2009 ISBN 9789882161535
*這個荒謬的快樂年代 (This Ridiculous Happy Era) Feb 2010 ISBN 9789882161740
*小奴才的修煉之道 (Tao of Being Flunkies) July 2010 ISBN 9789882161962


  1. ^ a b c d e f Chan, Peggy (2008-10-16), "A multitasking wit", China Daily,, retrieved 2009-04-07 
  2. ^ a b "Speaking Better English", Radio Television Hong Kong, 2001-11-06,, retrieved 2009-04-07 
  3. ^ Warwick Graduates Association (1999), Warwick Whereabouts: University of Warwick Alumni Directory, p. 938 
  4. ^ "陶傑涉「偷食」被記者踢爆/To Kit cheating; revealed by reporter", Wen Wei Po, 2004-08-25,, retrieved 2009-04-07 
  5. ^ "香港「才子」陶杰偷欢 厕纸扮木乃伊遮丑/Hong Kong "Man of Letters" To Kit cheating; wraps himself in toilet paper like a mummy to hide his shame", Ta Kung Pao, 2004-08-25,, retrieved 2009-04-07 
  6. ^ Lui, Rosetta; Lam, Perry (12 2007), "The writer we deserve?", Muse Magazine (11): 96 
  7. ^ Law, Niki (2005-10-16), "Outraged readers round on writer for 'racist dogma'", South China Morning Post,, retrieved 2009-04-01 
  8. ^ Tsao, Chip (2009-03-27), "The War at Home", HK Magazine, archived from the original on 2009-04-01,, retrieved 2009-04-01 
  9. ^ "HK scribe hit for calling RP 'nation of servants'",, 2009-03-29,, retrieved 2009-04-01 
  10. ^ Nubia, Timi (2009-03-31), "RP Consulate in Hong Kong finds 'Luisa'", ABS-CBN News,, retrieved 2009-04-01 
  11. ^ Sisante, Johanna Camille (2009-04-01), "Lawmaker dares Chip Tsao to 1 round of boxing",,, retrieved 2009-04-02 
  12. ^ "Pia slams Chip Tsao, HK Magazine", Press release, Senate of the Philippines, 14th Congress, 2009-03-29,, retrieved 2009-04-08 
  13. ^ Aning, Jerome (2009-03-30), "HK magazine regrets columnist's racial slur", Philippine Daily Inquirer,, retrieved 2009-04-02 
  14. ^ Balana, Cynthia (2009-04-01), "HK writer: 'So sorry, I crossed the line'", Philippine Daily Inquirer,, retrieved 2009-04-02 
  15. ^ "愚樂" is a pun on "娛樂" ("entertainment")

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