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Caixin: Li Ka-shing Responds to Commentaries on Divesting His Interests in China

On Tuesday, Hong Kong property tycoon Li Ka-shing responded publicly to those who expressed the viewpoint that he is moving his money out of China. Li said that there was no truth to these reports. He affirmed his confidence that the central government is committed to deepening reform and openness and that the mindset during the Cultural Revolution years will not revive. 

On Sept. 12, the Liaowang Institute, which is linked to the official news agency Xinhua, published an editorial, "Don’t Let Li Ka-shing Make an Exit," which expressed great displeasure over Li’s moving his money out of China. The article reminded Li that his huge wealth, as head of the Hutchison Whampoa conglomerate, had come from his connections to powerful Chinese officials, not from a level playing field in a market economy. It went on to lecture Li that "as someone who had reaped profits, [you are] not in a position to simply walk away." 

A statement that Li’s Cheung Kong Property Holdings Limited and CK Hutchison Holdings Limited released said, "Li understands that broader freedom of expression gives a voice to everyone, regrettably, even [to those who make] false accusations." The statement continued, "We did not respond earlier as the flurry of reports came at a time when President Xi Jinping was heading to the United States for a state visit. We did not want to take the spotlight off of that." 

In response to the "withdrawal" reports, the statement said, "In the past 10 years, over 70 percent of the companies listed in Hong Kong, including Chinese mainland state-owned enterprises, have chosen to register using BVI vehicles. The reason for companies to choose this method is for greater flexibility." 

The statement denied that there was any change in Li’s relationship with China’s leadership and added, "We are confident that the central government is committed to improving governance and to continuing on a path of economic reform. We do not think the mindset during the years of the Cultural Revolution will revive. Individual viewpoints in the Chinese media are not in line with China’s overall direction. Mr. Li greatly admires President Xi’s steady leadership."

Source: Caixin, September 29, 2015