At the time, Britain’s return of Hong Kong to China slated for later that year was of greatest importance to the international marketplace. Hong Kong, which long had a legacy of success as a capitalist colony of Great Britain, would revert to Chinese rule as the 99-year lease expired. Wong would be there to personally observe the historic handover.
In ’97, McWong International specialized in trade with China and Hong Kong, specifically in the import/export of industrial equipment and electrical products. It also provided consulting services to firms seeking to expand into the burgeoning Chinese market.
Having just traveled to Hong Kong and China to meet with Chinese trade officials, Wong sought to allay fears and squash rumors about Chinese reprisal against Hong Kong’s democratic ways.
“I believe they (China) support Hong Kong 100 percent,” she said. “They want to give as much support as possible. They even said ‘We want to turn Shanghai into another Hong Kong.’”
A Chinese American, fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin, with a degree in economics and finance from Hong Kong University, Wong came to the U.S. in 1974. For more than a decade she served as corporate controller for the Bostrom Corp. in Chicago. In 1984, she selected West Sacramento as the spot she where would create McWong International, and from where she would do her work in the international marketplace. “Because of my heritage, I always wanted to do business with the Pacific Rim.”
Wong’s motives for settling in Sacramento, instead of Los Angeles or San Francisco were clear. “Sacramento is closer to the government,” she said, “and much of the time, a government relationship is the beginning of a business relationship.”
At the time the story ran, McWong International was also just becoming active in the design and implementation of a number of large-scale infrastructure projects. The company had recently entered into an agreement with a Sacramento-area engineering firm to develop turnkey wastewater systems in China.
Today, McWong Environmental & Energy Group is a leading environmental engineering company headquartered in North Natomas with branch offices in Shanghai and Beijing. Its services include project program evaluation, process design, engineering, foreign and local equipment procurement and installation, commissioning, facility operation and management. The industries McWong services in China include steel mills, petro-chemical, coal-chemical, municipal, pharmaceutical, automobile and food and beverage. The company’s engineering, procurement and construction projects include supply water purification, wastewater treatment, sludge treatment, water recycling/reuse, water desalination, oil tank cleaning and oil recycling.
“Our environmental engineering company has experienced double-digit growth in the past few years,” she says. “Most of the growth has occurred in China but we are now expanding our U.S. presence as well. There is so much to do in China on the environmental services front, and it’s becoming a very competitive marketplace. After 17 years there, McWong has a very reputable name. I’m glad we made the commitment and the investment when we did.”
To continue her involvement in the international import/export business, Wong played an instrumental role in launching the California Center in China. Located in the Jiading district of Shanghai, the center offers myriad services to help get American goods, products and services directly to Chinese buyers and wholesalers.
“China’s consumer market is an entirely different market than it was 17 years ago,” she says. “Consumers there don’t trust their own system, especially on the food and agricultural products. They want to eat the healthy foods that are produced in the U.S.”
And as far as those concerns about the communist China takeover of capitalist Hong Kong, Wong says that everything has turned out just fine, with Hong Kong serving as a mentor of sorts to China and helping it develop business relationships with capitalist countries.
“Of course there were some hiccups along the way, but Hong Kong is as economically strong today as it has ever been. China has benefited from the relationship as well.”
Douglas Curley is the editor in chief of Comstock’s. Contact him at email@example.com.