• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 8:22pm

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


  • Yes: 83%
  • No: 17%
18 Sep 2013
  • Yes
  • No
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

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.


More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

If the rule of law is maintained in Hong Kong, there is no need to worry about the Shanghai free-trade zone so long as it still practices the Chinese characteristic rule of law which proves too difficult to be trusted by most people around the world. However, more and more Hongkongers are now worrying about the recent decline in the trustworthiness of our Police force and Government’s employment of Chengguan-like supporters. Let's keep our fingers crossed!
Charles William Morgan Jr.
The gentleman is correct! Hong Kong does need to speed up the pace of it's development. Now that it has been inhaled by China, the integration should proceed as quickly as possible, but the promised freedoms should be maintained. Those who object to such projects as high-speed rail should find other things to do to keep them busy!
SAR............very sorry for sar but this all because of poor policies by our corrupt lawmakers and officials, "Shanghai's new free-trade zone will have a bigger and quicker impact on Hong Kong than most people imagine" its truth and you will see it very soon that how poor SAR and its residents will be ,
"Hong Kong would lag behind if it did not accelerate the pace of its development, he said."
Clearly he is taking about getting his hands on construction and property contracts....more of what we do not need.
Mr. Li is right, understandably, as he and his family own most of the key industries. It is brilliant that he is giving his words that he is not leaving.
As a indigenous Hong Kong people, I am alarmed to see we have taken on worst of democracy (bickering for the sake of it) and having sadly lost international mind share to Singapore (I still remember they were "trying" to over take HK).
Do bear in mind we have a deadline of 2047 where Future existence of Hong Kong as a key trade hub will be in jeopardy if EVERYONE DO NOT work towards a common goal.
I would like to therefore challenge Mr. Li & others to work together, joining forces/resources and money to re-position HKG as the creative/intellectual/business hub for the region and hopefully for the world.
We will need Vision, Tenacity, hopefully with the support of a bi-partisan and ideally strong government.
IMHO, with so many billionaires, JPs and Multi-nationals asset at stake (in HKG), creating and carrying out a plan and get it funded should be done outside of the government and adopt the "JUST do it" approach.
We have everything in Hong Kong, culture, food, 'network density', hopefully still hard working people that we have grown up loving (we might talk loud but that's the language's fault!)
Now, someone come out and LEAD please!
if I have time, I shall blog more about this on: ****gw.cxovip.org
Wish us all luck and greater success (after some hard work) for TheFuture of Hong Kong!
Seems you have never done business in the Mainland before. There are already a lot of foreign investments in the Mainland, especially in Shanghai - sustainable businesses. Now with the free trade zone, the last obstacles have been removed - a status many cities in China incl. Shanghai were aiming for decades, but HK was protected by may supporters in the politics. I would say the reason why Shanghai eventually got it, is that HK is slowly losing the support in the Mainland and HK will lose big. The next target is the Delta-Area. But we HKnese still think we will do well without the support of Beijing...how naiv... we will harvest what we sow.
He is more concerned about how hard his own business in HK will be hit even though he's already invested overseas years ago..............if he wasn't trying to maintain a clean and reputable name before dying........he would have moved the headquarters of both CK and Hutch out of Hk long time ago...............
Isn't tomorrow a schoolday?
I can see the problem. With so many free trade zones, it will be much less obvious who needs to have his/her shoes shined, and how!



SCMP.com Account