Kim Ching was the eldest son of Tan Tock Seng, a native of Changzhou, Fujian province.
He followed his father’s footsteps and achieved considerable success for his Chop Chin Seng, which owned rice mills in Saigon and Siam.
When the Tanjong Pagar Dock Co. (the forerunner of the Port of Singapore Authority) was established in 1863, he contributed $120,000 to its development. He also engaged in saw-mill and shipping.
After his father’s death, he was revered as a leader in the Chinese community.
He was made a Justice of Peace in 1865, two years after he was made an additional Justice of Peace.
Later in 1872, Kim Cheng received another honor of being appointed a honorary magistrate to assist in the administration of justice.
In 1888, he was made a Municipal Commissioner.
As he was engaged in rice and foodstuff trade with Siam and had forged a close relation with the country, he was appointed the first Consul-General for Siam by the King in 1886.
In 1878, he joined hands with Tan Beng Swee, son of Tan Kim Seng, to found an ancestral shrine Bao Chi Gong for the Tan clan.
In 1888, Kim Cheng was conferred the 3rd class decoration of the Order of the Raising Sun for arranging Prince Komatsu’s (of Japan) visit to Siam on a diplomatic mission.
A charitable man and an arbitrator, Kim Cheng had great influence on the Chinese in Kelantan and Petani.
Before the signing of the Pangkor Treaty on Perak affairs, he exerted influence on the secret society members of Shan He Hui to accept mediation by the government.
He was fluent in Malay and was arguably the most powerful Chinese leader in the region in the 19th century
Kim Cheng died in 1892 at 63, leaving behind a daughter and several grandchildren.
All his sons died earlier than him.