As the Hong Kong handover boom fizzles into the Asian economic bust, a young American couple’s marriage and careers unravel in a web of television news, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie in Hong Kong On Air.
The 1997 handover and Asian economic crisis that followed sparked China’s emergence as a global economic power and ended Hong Kong’s moment as the center of the universe. For everyone whose job or business falls under China’s lengthening economic shadow, TV news veteran Muhammad Cohen’s striking, often side-splitting account reveals how it all began. For media watchers, Hong Kong On Air broadcasts the backstage secrets of television news, how and why some events become headlines and others die gasping for air time.
For TV producer Laura Wellesley, the morning shift at Franklin Global Networks Asia means going to bed before dark and swallowing the first rule of broadcast news: the anchor is always right, especially when it’s American-born Chinese egomaniac Deng Jiang Mao. For Laura’s husband Jeff, the production line for his Golden Beauties lingerie runs through a cagey mother minding their stores on Long Island, cookie tins stuffed with cash smuggled over the border, and hot tubs in Hong Kong’s Jewish Community Club and mainland brothels. Cut out of his own multi-million dollar deal, Jeff’s consolation prize is Yogi Takahara, a Japanese banker with a yen for “Jew food” and men raised on it.
During Hong Kong’s pre-handover boom, FGN Asia becomes a hit, a star is born, and mistakes are easy to overlook. But the economic crisis ripens relationships for treachery, creates opportunities for revenge, and moves China center stage, triggering a great leap forward for some, a long march to failure for others. One reviewer calls Hong Kong On Air “the great American Hong Kong handover novel.”