Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s people need to stop complaining about Chinese tourists, who help support the city’s economy, Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing said.
“Imagine, it will be very difficult for Hong Kong if there’s no support from China,” Li told reporters today at a press conference. People from Hong Kong need to “stop scolding China tourists, this is totally wrong.”
Public discontent in Hong Kong has risen as Chinese tourists and investors poured into the city, buying up homes, Prada handbags and daily necessities. Protesters marched through a shopping district this month demanding that the government curb visitors from the mainland.
Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong from China jumped about 17 percent to 40.8 million last year, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. China is the destination for more than half of the city’s exports of goods and the source of 75 percent of tourist arrivals, Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang said Feb. 26.
“Hong Kong people and people from China are all Chinese,” Li said. “We should have a better relationship.”
Li also repeated his opposition to a group called Occupy Central, which wants to have a sit-in protest in the city’s business district this year. The government is conducting public consultation over reforms needed to bring in universal suffrage in 2017, with the Occupy Central group pledging protests if the electoral changes fail to meet its expectations.
Li was speaking after his companies, Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., reported earnings.
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