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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 6:24pm

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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Competition does not mean emulation. "Hong Kong" had a meaning to the world as a multicultural city. It has lost much of that cachet. Shanghai is and will be a Chinese city replete with the good and bad of being the financial center of China. We will never out-China Shanghai. Hong Kong needs to distinguish itself building on its rule of law, ability to change and adapt where the Mainland needs approval of the princes, welcoming investors not just from China but throughout ASEAN. Our international view is very different that we see in China and that is something we should exploit. The sticking point is a government that is fixated on destroying what makes us different in order to satisfy the princes in Beijing that we will be good little slaves. I am not in favor of occupying Central but we need a government that reports to the people not to the masters or else we will fade into the background.
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.
The tortoise has become the new hare.....no turning back. Time for the old hare to not only wake up, but shape up. Now new race has started - hare vs hare!
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.
@johnyuan. Not only Mr LKS, other developers or affluent business people too. We need to look at the future, our next generation and what Hong Kong truly does mean to us. The 1997 outflow of population due to uncertainty of the hanover is long gone, so is the colonial rule. We need a new Hong Kong, with total commitment of Hong Kong people across the board; With our unity based solely on the interest and well being of Hong Kong, we can steer this sinking ship to higher ground. Time to think.......to reflect and to work together for Hong Kong.
I totally agree with your first part, but I definitely can't agree with your criticism that we have a "bad" government. Then pray tell, what do you define as a "good" government? Hong Kong can't keep blaming the government and lack of democracy for all its ills and shortcomings. As you said already, we have to work for the better, not keep demanding it. All the trash talking, dog-and-pony legco shows, street demonstrations and no real constructive action has left us where we are today. How can the Central Government be impressed by our antics?? They will just keep giving us lip service about how important we are when they are really preparing for our phasing out if we keep being a thorn in their side.
I might be wrong, but LKS is the leader among the privileged to make a change in Hong Kong. Sure anyone else wants to lead is also welcomed.
‘Hong Kong would lag behind if it did not accelerate the pace of its development, he said.’ Coming from LKS, we must not dismiss his cautious advice. But we must ask him how? Or it is assume he is speaking for his companies which are not necessary good for Hong Kong as a whole. Hong Kong needs diversification in ownership to invent and to be competitive. I believe LKS can provide leadership in reducing rent and housing cost by lowering their profit margin. Let go some of his business so others can have a chance to build their business in a new environment. I believe he has already embarked in this direction.
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?
@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.
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.
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.
I have done business in the Mainland for 20+ years, hence I know :)
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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