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relates to Hong Kong's Broken Billionaire Factory Shows City Losing Step
Photo collage: Steph Davidson, Getty(3)

Hong Kong's Broken Billionaire Factory Shows City Losing Step

A quarter century after its handover, the Chinese territory is still struggling to explore new engines of growth beyond property and finance to stay competitive.

In 1996, the year before Hong Kong’s historic return to Chinese rule, two property tycoons from the British colony — Lee Shau Kee and Li Ka-shing — broke into the list of the world’s top 10 richest people for the first time. A quarter century later, that exclusive club no longer features anyone from the city, showing how the territory has failed to keep up with creating wealth.

Despite being touted as one of the world’s freest markets, Hong Kong has barely seen any new homegrown billionaires reach the world’s top 500 in the past 25 years, barring a handful, including a son of Li’s and some mainland entrepreneurs with local citizenship running businesses outside Hong Kong.