• Sat
  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 12:08am

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

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.
Isn't tomorrow a schoolday?
He is right...at the speed of China opening and reforming...CY Leung is doing nothing but to gain a cheap popularity for himself, bad idea. Theres so much poetential here... all we need is give direction,support and have a vision of HK. Learn from Korea or Singapore.
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!
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.
It is time for HK to do some soul searching before too late. Many outdated thinkings still arguing our law and order still giving us advantage. No and No. If you look at the foreign Investment in China you know why. DFI into China is much higher than going into HK. This prove investors are not worrying about china's law and order. Wake up Hk. Private equity virtually not doing VC directly in HK startup vs tons in China.
Where is China wealthy people send their kids to study overseas? Not HK. Only the poor family needing a scholarship or cheaper tuition will come to HK. So what do you think when this wealthy guys do after they graduate from overseas mainly US? Buying a house or starting a biz in HK? No way. With the yuan floating soon, this will even getting worst. As money can easily go out to overseas to buy assets.
who cares where mainlanders send their princlings to school
are we supposed to open the borders to let all their beggars and peasants flood the city, cause that is all that will happen
I did not know this tiny island is supposed to compete toe to toe with 1.2 billion people
if hong kong wants to compete, then it MUST DIFFERENTIATE itself from china, not assimilate
why not become the asian english hub, kind of like a cheap gateway to the west for china
Are you kidding hk can be Asian English hub? Singapore even taxi drivers mostly speak pretty good English vs hk drivers almost no English. Some of our university grad can't even articulate well in English.
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?
We need to do something soon to spur the economy, a grand vision of some sorts.




SCMP.com Account