Li Ka Shing

From Academic Kids

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Li Ka Shing (李嘉誠 pinyin: Lǐ Jiāchng, Jyutping: Lei5 Gaa1-sing4, born July 29, 1928), is the wealthiest person in Hong Kong and East Asia. He is also the richest person of Chinese descent in the world.

Considered one of the most powerful figures in Asia, Li was named "Asia's Most Powerful Man" by Asiaweek in 2000. Also that year, Forbes listed his personal wealth at US $11.3 billion, putting him ahead of Rupert Murdoch. On February 26, 2004, Forbes ranked him as 19th richest man in the world at US $12.4 billion. In spite of his wealth, Li has a reputation for leading a no-frills lifestyle, and is known to wear cheap shoes and old watches.

Li is also a noted philanthropist; his 1981 donations resulted in the founding of Shantou University, near his hometown of Chaozhou. After the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake disaster, he reportedly pledged a total of US $3 million.

It is widely believed Li has close ties, through his many business interests, with the government of the People's Republic of China, particularly its senior officials, and especially Jiang Zemin.

Li Ka Shing was born in Chaozhou in the Guangdong Province, China in 1928. In 1940 the Li family fled to Hong Kong as the Japanese invaded China. After getting his first job selling watch bands, he became a wholesale salesman at age 17, and a general manager at age 19.

Business Empire

In 1949, he founded a plastics company in Hong Kong, and made his first fortune selling plastic flowers. In 1958, he moved into real estate and by 1971, had created Cheung Kong Real Estate Company (長江實業有限公司), named after Cheung Kong, (Chang Jiang or the Yangtze River) the longest river in China. That company would eventually acquire Li's current flagship company, Hutchison Whampoa Limited, in 1979, and Hongkong Electric Holdings Limited in 1985, creating a massive conglomerate with business interests in multiple industries.

Although some of his corporation's business deals have been labelled controversial, especially those involving the People's Liberation Army of China (which has extensive industrial holdings), Li's conglomerate is now one of the largest in Hong Kong.

Li's outsized economic and political influence on Hong Kong explains a common saying among residents that can be translated as "Hong Kong is the private kingdom of Li Ka Shing".

His two sons Victor Li (李澤鉅) and Richard Li (李澤楷) are also major players in the Hong Kong business scene. Victor Li works directly with his father as managing director and deputy chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited, while Richard Li is the head of Pacific Century Cyber Works, the largest telecoms company in Hong Kong.

In January 2005, Li announced plans to sell his CDN $1.2 billion stake in the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, with all proceeds going to the Li Ka Shing Foundation in Hong Kong and the Toronto-based Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation. [1] (

Incidents and rumours

1. Victor Li (李澤鉅) was kidnapped by the gangster Cheung Chi Keung in 1996. Ransom was set at HK $1 billion. Several unconfirmed reports said that the Central government advised Li's family not to report the case to the Hong Kong Police. Cheung later fled to the Chinese mainland, where he was immediately arrested and accused of other crimes, and executed in Guangzhou. Commentary at the time made much of the fact that he would "only" have faced a life sentence had he been arrested in Hong Kong.

2. The death of Li's wife (莊月明) is often spoken of as a "mystery". Although officially dying of disease, some, most notably Hong Kong's bestselling Next Magazine, have suggested suicide related to Li's private life.

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