Beijing's Brokers

Dominic Nahr / Polaris

Good connections: Hong Kong's port is key to the mainland's global supply chain

Cheah Cheng hye's life is a rags-to-riches saga with an Asian twist. As a boy in Malaysia, Cheah sold pineapples by the roadside to support himself after his father died. Years later, Cheah left behind a career in journalism to start Value Partners, now Hong Kong's most successful independent investment-fund firm, with $7.2 billion under management.

Cheah built his business helping foreigners invest in Chinese companies. But now, he says, that script has been flipped: China wants help investing abroad. When Value Partners went public in November, Chinese insurance giant Ping An snapped up...

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