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China’s State Media Took on Li Ka-shing

After the Hong Kong Real Estate Tycoon Li Ka-shing asked that the administration be lenient toward “the future owners of Hong Kong,” China’s state media blamed him for creating the housing crisis in Hong Kong. One observer thought this might indicate that Beijing is aiming at the wallets of the Hong Kong business elites to help it get through the current economic crisis.

In the past, Li Ka-shing remained low-key on the Hong Kong issue. His son Richard Li Tzar Kai presented a position statement. After pro-CCP gangsters severely cut a news reporter from the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Richard Li, who owns the newspaper, stated that he would cover all of the medical expenses and rehabilitation treatment for the staff and called for the police to bring the gangsters to justice.

Recently Beijing demanded that the Hong Kong business community express their support for Beijing and the Hong Kong government. Li Ka-shing put ads in newspaper, but people felt the ads could be interpreted as either pro Beijing or pro Hong Kong protesters.

On September 8, Li Ka-shing said at a prayer meeting that he wishes the young people be considerate about the big picture and the administration be lenient toward the future owners of Hong Kong. “Though there can be conflicts between the Law and the human feelings, on political issues, if (people) can think about the other party, many big issues can turn into smaller ones.”

On September 12, China’s state media fired at Li.  The Chang’an Sword, the pen name of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC), published an article titled “Li Ka-shing Spoke – Who Should Be Lenient toward the Hong Kong People?” The article stated that “a few future owners of Hong Kong illegally gathered on the street, beat the passengers, attacked the police, lit fires, … (They) created much violence.” “(Being lenient to these people) is nothing more than conniving in their crime. This is not thinking for Hong Kong, but it is watching Hong Kong slip into an abyss.”

It then said that people questioned Li Ka-shing on Internet postings. During the Asian financial crisis in 1997, Li Ka-shing continued to request the small businesses to pay back their debts. “Why didn’t we see you be lenient toward Hong Kong citizen then?”

It further blamed Li Ka-shing and other real estate businesses for hoarding land in Hong Kong and thus created the extremely-high housing prices in Hong Kong. It suggested that the government should develop more affordable housing to improve people’s living standards. “Don’t know if those real estate businessmen, like the richest man Li, will be ‘lenient’ toward the Hong Kong people this time? Will be ‘lenient’ toward the future owners of Hong Kong?”

The People’s Daily also published an article on the Tencent QQ site, titled “Hong Kong Can No Longer Wait to Solve Its Housing Problem!” It said that a large reason that many young people who were not interested in politics got involved in the past three months was because they felt that they cannot control their future. Unaffordable housing prices in Hong Kong are a key reason.

It suggested that the government can follow the Land Resumption Regulation, to use its administrative power to take the land back from private owners. “According to the Basic Law, the compensation for the acquisition of land ‘is equivalent to the actual value of the property at the time.’ The private owner will be paid.”

“For the sake of the people, for the sake of their living, it is time for the real estate developers to show their maximum good will. They should not just think for themselves and grab the last penny they can get. What is it to be responsible to the future of Hong Kong? What is it to be ‘lenient’ to the young people of Hong Kong? This is.”

Reuters quoted a source on September 13 that said Beijing has recently gathering the top executives of nearly 100 State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and asked them to increase their investment in the real estate, retail, and tourism industries in Hong Kong and gain control over Hong Kong companies.

One SOE representative told Reuters, “Hong Kong business elites have done way too little (this time). Most of them don’t belong to (our side).”

A China issues expert commented that the CCP’s taking on Li Ka-shing has a deeper meaning. Beijing’s foreign reserves will be depleted soon. How to quickly gather foreign money has become an urgent issue for the CCP to extend its life. Hong Kong companies might become the CCP’s target for their money pool.

1. Epoch Times, September 13, 2019
2. SINA, September 12, 2019
3. QQ, September 12, 2019