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Li Ka-Shing

Often referred to as “Superman” in Hong Kong because of his business prowess, Li Ka-shing is the richest businessman in Asia, and chairs conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings, a property group. Li turned Cheung Kong Industries into a top property group, and Cheung Kong expanded to acquire Hutchison Whampoa in 1979 and Hongkong Electric in 1985. Li is a noted philanthropist and heads a charitable foundation that is a shareholder in Facebook.

NewsHong Kong

Shanghai free-trade zone will hit Hong Kong quicker than expected, says Li Ka-shing

Hong Kong needs to develop more quickly or risk being left behind, warns tycoon, as he urges people to unite to improve the city

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, 10:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 4:49pm
 

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18 Sep 2013
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Total number of votes recorded: 482

Shanghai's new free-trade zone will have a bigger and quicker impact on Hong Kong than most people imagine, Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, said yesterday.

"[The free-trade zone] will have a big impact on Hong Kong," said Li, who chairs Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa. "It has different aspects, including financial services. When the yuan becomes fully convertible, it will benefit the development of Shanghai."

Hong Kong would lag behind if it did not accelerate the pace of its development, he said.

If I sell this building [Cheung Kong Center], you should start to worry
LI KA-SHING

The landmark project signals Beijing's determination to raise the competitiveness of the mainland economy. It plans to elevate Shanghai's role in economic reform by loosening controls on capital flows and expanding foreign investment in its free-trade zone, to officially open next week.

Asked if Shanghai would surpass Hong Kong in the next five to 10 years, Li replied: "I do not want to predict. But it will be faster than most people expect.

"It is just like you are running a 1,000-kilometre race. When you run one-third of the race, you see [your competitor] still behind you. But you are already surpassed [by your competitor] in the first half of the race. It is all about the speed."

The speed at which the Shanghai project has taken shape has caught market watchers by surprise. It has overshadowed similar plans for Qianhai in Shenzhen, Hengqin island in the Zhuhai special economic zone, and Nansha, in Guangzhou.

Li urged Hongkongers to unite to improve the city, and said his flagship companies would not pull their assets out of Hong Kong. "I will absolutely not move our domiciles from Hong Kong," he said. "After many years Cheung Kong and Hutchison will still be here."

His remarks followed widespread reports that Li was pulling assets out of Hong Kong and the mainland, with plans to offload HK$40 billion of assets, including the possible sale of the ParknShop supermarket chain.

Li said selling ParknShop was a commercial decision.

"If [this move] is interpreted as pulling out from Hong Kong, the amount may be too small," Li said, joking that "to me, if I sell this building [Cheung Kong Center], you should start to worry."

Li said Hong Kong's property market had become unpredictable because it was subject to government policies, but the impact of cooling measures on developers and other sectors would be reflected next year.

Property transactions in Hong Kong dropped to their lowest level in a decade in the first half of the year. There were 39,077 property transactions lodged with the government registry as a series of housing policy measures and the continued tightening of mortgage requirements weighed on the real estate industry. It was the lowest number of transactions since the 35,200 deals recorded in the first half of 2003, when the city was gripped by fears about Sars.

Separately, a member of the Friends of Hong Kong Association quoted Wang Guangya, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, as saying there were several economic hubs that needed support from the central government.

"Wang said the country had more than a son, referring to the several hubs, but it would reserve the best policies for Hong Kong," said Chan Wing-kee.

Commenting on the Occupy Central movement for greater democracy, Li said: "Personally I do not agree with occupying Central. It will adversely affect Hong Kong's image as a financial city and have a negative impact on the city's economy."

There were many ways to express an opinion, he said, and it was not necessary to choose such a method to fight for democracy.

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whymak
SpeakFreely:
Haven't you noticed mainland students in our tertiary institutions having a much better command of English than local ones? Is that another reason for us to resent them?
Byebye
@andreaswagner "..... Shanghai can never offer this under the current regime" - China regime/ leaders, please take note, work at it, if need be, use expertise, law and order from your new young child, Hong Kong. Hong Kongers, there is no need to worry about Shanghai, afterall they are our closest neighbour across the border under one country. Singapore has no such priviledge as their neighbours are individual countries. Look at America, does New York worry about Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, or Paris worries about Lyon, M****illes... Hong Kong is now in a big country, and it is to our best interest to work with China (other countries are doing that) Lets spread our culture to them - the dreams we used to have; our working and hardwork ethics, our artistic innovation, our food, our lifestyle, our education, our expertise, our law and orders, our fighting spirit.......Although we have no natural resources, we were once the best performer in Asia, and lets make it back. Lets help the government to work and walk together in this difficult time - lets excel together.
Camel
You don't get it do you? Li has been moving most of his assets to overseas for over 2 years now. His investments in local HK declined and increased by larged portion abroad. The selling of ParknShop is just the beginning. Such shortsighted people like you don't see the train until it already ran over you. But what am I saying, you will be one of the first leaving the city back to the "old good land of the free" when it comes to it.
andreaswagner
There is one important factor which has been overlooked, and which is very important for sustainable business. Hong Kong has rule of law and protection by the law. Shanghai can never offer this under the current regime.
andreaswagner
I have done business in the Mainland for 20+ years, hence I know :)
lamlm38
at this moment it's all hot air and short of fine prints.. for the local gov it seems more like a property deal than anything else.. yeah.. go ahead get the land sales rev 1st and sort out the specifics later.. who cares whether it works eventually.. scams like this happened b4 in Fujian prov (Pintan Island).. they tricked the Taiwanese into believing the area would b a free trade zone.. but b4 any biz came in the property $ oready sky high so it's a ghost town now :)
taoscmplogin
Hong Kongers can only unite behind a set of economic and social policies which sees sustainability of livelihoods in the long run. Government and concentrated business interests have long controlled the fate of this great city. It's time the tycoons and obscenely rich give more meaningfully back what they have reaped over such a long time. Last Sunday's Post magazine covered a story about how many exotic and expensive sports cars could be seen around the city. For every one of these cars, I would hope the owners give two times their value to more worthy causes relating to livelihood programmes.
Camel
If the HK government is acting on behalf of those rascals and troublemaker the city for sure is going down. HK needs the Mainland and that is fact and there is no way around. The few ones who don't like it should leave.
ejmciii
True the government should continue to be shining the shoes of the masters in Beijing. You are a credit to the masters, Camel. Lick them boots.
pangkf
It's true that it's time for our Hongkongers to unite togther and improve our city! But the problem is we have a bad government who cannot do well as always.

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