Li Ka-shing stands firm on his charity arm's Greater China focus

December 21, 2015 14:53
Li Ka-shing (second from right), flanked by Solina Chau (extreme right); Aaron Ciechanover. vice-chancellor of GTIIT (extreme left) and Peretz Lavie, president of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, at an event in Shantou last week. Photo: HKEJ

Tycoon Li Ka-shing continues to insist that more than four-fifths of the money allocated for his charitable organization should go toward projects in the Greater China region, according to a top official overseeing Li's philanthropic activities.

Solina Chau Hoi-shuen, a director of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, cited Hong Kong's richest man as saying that he won't alter his decision to channel most of the foundation's funds to Greater China.

According to Chau, Li told one of his sons in late September -- before going for a small surgery in the US for lumbar spinal stenosis -- that no one can change the investment proportion of the foundation.

"My foundation has more than 80 percent projects targeting the Greater China region. No one can change my decision... No matter what happens to me," Li is said to have told the son.

Chau did not disclose the identity of the person that Li made the comments to, but it is believed to be his younger son, Richard Li Tzar-kai, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

The elder Li had faced some criticism from Chinese government mouthpieces this year for allegedly seeking to pull out some investments from the mainland.

Outlook Institute, a policy research organization backed by Xinhua News Agency, published in September an article titled "Don’t let Li Ka-shing run away". 

In another instance, People's Daily published an article on its social media page that implicitly questioned the patriotism of the Hong Kong billionaire.

In a statement issued on Sept. 29, Li dismissed charges that he was withdrawing from China and said there was no basis to such speculation.

Chau noted that Li traveled to the US for a small medical operation a day after issuing the statement.

While he was going into the operating room, the tycoon made it clear that, regardless of the criticism that he faced, the charitable foundation should continue to devote most of its funds to the Greater China region, Chau said.

She made the comments during an interview last week in Shantou, where the Li-funded Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) had a cornerstone laying ceremony.

The accusations leveled by the Chinese media on Li earlier in the year were unjust, she said. "It's very wrong."

Li believes the accusations reflected the opinions of only a small group of people, and not the Beijing leadership, Chau said.

The tycoon is very open-minded, and now feels that the whole episode has in fact helped him gain more friends, she said.

In other comments, Chau said that Li's surgery had been successful.

In October, two articles carried by Xinhua highlighted Li's investments and business activities in Southern China and acknowledged his contribution to the nation's development.

The articles suggested that even the Chinese leadership felt that the Hong Kong tycoon had been unfairly targeted by mainland media earlier.

Disclosure: Richard Li Tzar-kai owns the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight.

[Chinese version中文版]

Xinhua acknowledges Li Ka-shing’s contributions to China (Oct. 23, 2015)

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Hong Kong Economic Journal