Li Ka-Shing Says Hong Kong Handover Created Beneficial Ties With China

  • Hong Kong set to mark 20th anniversary of handover on July 1
  • Technology industry important to Hong Kong’s future: Li

People look out from the waterfront in the Tsim Sha Tsui district as buildings across the Victoria Harbour stand illuminated at night in Hong Kong, China.

Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule almost 20 years ago set the stage for a smooth transition that paved the way for a mutually beneficial relationship, according to billionaire Li Ka-shing.

“Not only did it provide stability for Hong Kong, its people and its businesses to thrive and evolve in an intensifying competitive environment, our ‘front row seats’ offered unparalleled views into the opportunities and changes in an advancing Chinese economy,” Li, Hong Kong’s richest man, said in comments posted on the website of the Li Ka Shing Foundation in response to questions from the Xinhua News Agency.

Li Ka-shing

Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

China’s “one country, two systems” framework for Hong Kong “epitomized the creativity and the flexibility of the Chinese leaders” and China’s continued commitment to the framework is critical to Hong Kong’s ability to flourish, Li said.

The comments come as Hong Kong prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule, with July 1 marking the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the city since taking office. Other business tycoons, including K. Wah Group Chairman Lui Che-Woo and Tencent’s Pony Ma, have also voiced their views about Hong Kong recently.

“If we cherish freedom and opportunities, we need to be mindful of the essence of mutual tolerance and respect” under the framework, Li said.

Hong Kong must also “uphold its part, to be respectful and safeguard the foundation of law and order and to stand and fight against the corrosive force of corruption,” he said.

Looking ahead, Li expressed confidence that Xi’s Belt-and-Road Initiative will be an important conduit of growth and that the city’s incoming administration will be able to build on Hong Kong’s strengths. The city’s Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam will began her five-year term on July 1.

When asked how to diversify the city’s heavy reliance on property and finance to drive economic growth, Li said Hong Kong should step up efforts in investment, education and reforms. Developing the technology industry is important to the future of Hong Kong, he added.

— With assistance by Jing Yang De Morel, and Janet Ong

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