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  • Updated: 4:34pm

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.


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This article is now closed to comments

Is pretty hard for the city to unite when Li Ka-shing charges astronomically high rent everywhere. HK is done. His grand kid will not have a HK to enjoy in the next generation.
We need to do something soon to spur the economy, a grand vision of some sorts.
yes - instead of 30 years it might be 20 years.
I can't wait for Shanghai to take over Hong Kong; maybe all the mainlanders can pick up milk powder formula and expensive handbags / watches / jewellery there too so that we can have our noodle shops back instead of 3 Omega watch shops on one road.
The Yuan will not be fully-convertible for at least another 20 years despite all the rhetoric unless the communist party was deposed.
HK sar is the top Racist place on the globe.
Ik ken u niet, maar u zit er wel te op testoken? Maar vrijheidsMeningsuiten... dat mag ... toch... !!! Iedereen zijn eigen mening!!!
How about in English?
ik ken u niet? Maar u taal spreekt me aan... zo is het. Maar 1 vraag, kan HK nog een 50 jaar erbij te krijgen for 1 land with 2 systeem??? Want dan heeft HK tijd genoeg om iets mooi's te gaan bouwen/maken!!! (Y) (Y) (Y)
Seems in your 20+ years you have learned nothing, hence you know nothing.
So, sit down, make yourself comfortable and this time observe carefully how Shanghai will develop.Then we can talk again.
Up to now, no FTZ was confirmed in any way. If the Taiwanese speculated on false base, then it's their coffee.
Shanghai is the first and confirmed. The development of China within 30 years is not just "hot air". Once something is confirmed, then its confirmed.
The government plays a large role in facilitating a fertile environment for growth and development. The current environment is most definitely not fertile--high rents, wage inequality, inadequate infrastructure, lack of strategic planning and efficiency, etc.

A bad government would be one which is unable to or does nothing to provide said fertile environment.



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