Tuesday, 29 September 2015

China Slighted by Li Ka-shing's Exit

Li Ka-shing finally hits back at criticisms from Chinese state media
In the last few weeks Chinese state media have been ganging up on tycoon Li Ka-shing, criticizing him for pulling out his business interests in the mainland.

Even Communist mouthpiece People's Daily joined in with a commentary urging readers to "build a better country to make his departure today become his regret tomorrow".

To China, Li was the man to look up to, who persevered with humble beginnings making plastic flowers to now owning a conglomerate that includes shipping, telecommunications, electricity, beverages, hotels and of course property.

He was portrayed as the filial son for investing in the mainland, building schools and of course commercial deals.

But now he feels like he's made his dough -- plenty of it -- and wants to exit the China market and find other opportunities elsewhere.

However the mainland feels insulted because it believes a business decision should have nationalism in mind, when really they are two separate things.

China obviously hasn't been watching what Li has been doing in Hong Kong these last few years...

In any event, Li finally broke his silence today, blasting the mainland media for its "cultural revolution"-style attacks on him that did not represent central government views, and maintained he was still very much invested in China, despite being called "unpatriotic".

"I understand that freedom of expression is a double-edged sword so even an article with logical fallacies can stir up a heated debate," he said. "But it is with regret that the tone of the articles sent chills down people's spines with a distorted view."

However we have to keep in mind that if a chorus of mainland media have ranted at Li, particularly People's Daily, some senior officials in the propaganda department have given the green light...

In a media statement issued by the group's corporate affairs department, the tycoon stated clearly that he would not benefit from any restructuring of his empire in China, adding the claim that he withdrew mainland assets worth billions of dollars was unsubstantiated.

And in an explanation as to why it took him so long to respond, Li said he didn't want to create controversy during Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to the United States.

"We are vigilant not to let these unfounded allegations escalate to cause investors' concerns and militate against President Xi's positive message to the business community and investors at large," the statement said.

Awww, how thoughtful. See? Li still has China's interests in mind.

It is too simplistic for Chinese state media to bash Li without understanding how an astute businessman operates in a free market. Perhaps someone high up in the propaganda department may lose his or her job for giving the green light to state media to bash the tycoon.

But at the same time Li surely understands the optics of restructuring his business and what it means, especially to mainlanders.

Can we just kiss and make up now?

1 comment:

  1. So amidst gossip of Chinese squabbles taking place, up-there, high in the GDP-food-chain, what happens to HK home-ownership & property prices, I wonder? Isn't that HK's problem #1, waiting to be solved, by someone? anyone? capitalist ?communist.