Prominent leftist businessman and philanthropist Tsui Tsin-tong has died in Beijing aged 69, almost a month after he suffered a stroke. Tsui, who fled turmoil on the mainland in 1950 but later became one of Hong Kong's leading patriots - playing a key role in the return of the city's sovereignty to China - died at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital at about 11am. The death of Tsui, convener of the Hong Kong delegation to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Standing Committee, came just under a month after he fell into a coma on March 4 while attending the annual plenary session of the CPPCC. National leaders including State Councillor Liu Yandong, CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin and vice-chairman Tung Chee-hwa had visited him in hospital last month. Announcing the news, standing committee member Chan Wing-kee said he believed a high-level funeral would be organised to reflect Tsui's contributions to the nation and Hong Kong, particularly his work on the change of sovereignty. 'Mr Tsui was a person who deserved respect. He went from rags to riches with his own efforts and was a very senior member on the CPPCC Standing Committee. We will all miss him,' Chan said. Former colleagues praised him as a generous and sociable person. 'He was a righteous man and liked helping others. He was never stingy and he regarded friendship highly,' CPPCC delegate Wong Sau-ching said. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen described Tsui as a 'renowned philanthropist and distinguished collector of relics and cultural artefacts' who had provided generous endowments for cultural causes. He also praised his solid contribution to the smooth transition of the handover. Tsui seemed an unlikely candidate for wealth and prominence in his teenage years when he worked in a noodle shop and as a messenger. But when property prices dived because of the 1967 riots he saw the opportunity and plunged in, making his first fortune. In the 1980s, he took over China Paint Mfg, the first paint manufacturer established in Hong Kong, and Citybus Group which he steered to strong growth, breaking established monopolies in the city and pioneering cross-border bus services. But his public profile remained low until his link with mainland arms manufacturer China North Industries (Norinco), through his company Rex International Development, was revealed in 1997. On June 24, 1997, during the last sitting before the handover, the Executive Council forced Rex, set up by Tsui and Norinco, to halt business over allegations it supplied materials for 'weapons of mass destruction' to Middle Eastern countries, including Iran and Iraq. These allegedly included chemical warfare components that could have fallen into the hands of terrorists. Tsui never commented on the allegations. He also raised eyebrows in 1993 when he took over Pai Shing, a Hong Kong-based magazine critical of mainland authorities, sparking speculation whether Beijing orchestrated the takeover to silence the magazine. But Lau Chi-sun, chief editor of Pai Shing from 1992 to 1993, said Tsui simply wanted to help the magazine survive its financial difficulties. Tsui had become active in the Beijing-friendly camp in the early 1990s. He was appointed a Hong Kong affairs adviser by the Chinese government in 1992 and became a member of the CPPCC Standing Committee the following year. He was appointed a member of the Preliminary Working Committee of the Preparatory Committee - which worked on establishment of the Special Administrative Region. Tsui, whose collection of Chinese art treasures is estimated to be worth more than HK$1 billion, donated Chinese antiques to museums and galleries around the world, and established the Tsui Museum of Chinese Art in Hong Kong. His charity work included chairing the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in the 1990s.