Li Ka-shing says 'loving the country' means being truthful and pragmatic
Tycoon believes pragmatism and making a contribution are also qualities that count most
Li Ka-shing yesterday defined "love of country" - the quality Beijing sees as essential for Hong Kong's next chief executive.
"[A person who] loves the country must tell the truth, be pragmatic and have contributed [to the country]," said Li, and that kind of person would be good for the country's development.
But Li refused to specifically say whether these should also be criteria for future candidates for Hong Kong's chief executive.
The remarks by the city's richest man came at a news conference announcing the financial results of his two flagship companies, Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa.
On Sunday, Qiao Xiaoyang, chairman of the Law Committee under the National People's Congress, indicated at a closed-door seminar on the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, that, among other criteria, chief executive candidates must be persons who loved the country and loved Hong Kong.
Turning to the property market, Li predicted home prices in Hong Kong would stabilise, in view of possible double-digit increases in construction costs.
This, coupled with low interest rates and a favourable employment environment, would lend support to a stable property market. He recommended that home seekers buy now if they could afford to do so.
In view of current financial instability, Li said it was still fine to buy a flat for one's own use or for the next generation, provided buyers could afford it.
Li said Cheung Kong, which plans to put more than 5,200 flats up for sale in the city this year, was not pessimistic about the housing market.
He believed that the government's cooling measures were aimed at stabilising home prices.
Commenting on recent government interventions - from restrictions on carrying infant milk formula across the border to the property cooling measures - he said he would need more time to observe how well the interventions worked.
Li also said Cheung Kong's recent sale of units at its Apex Horizon hotel in Kwai Chung was lawful.
The company had not asked its staff to buy Apex units to support sales, he said.