The war of words between the Chinese media and Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing entered a new phase this week. As we reported in WiC297, a Xinhua think tank had recently accused Li of abandoning China and trying to ‘run away’ as he continues to move his assets overseas.
In a rare move Li’s flagship company CK Hutchison Holdings has issued a defiant rebuttal. “We are vigilant not to let these unfounded allegations escalate to cause investor concerns and mitigate against President Xi’s positive message to the business community and investors at large,” the statement read.
Invoking Xi Jinping by name may be a tactic to counter the accusations that Li’s actions have been “unpatriotic”. Li’s company, when asked why it didn’t issue a response earlier, claimed that it did not want to “stoke controversy” while Xi was on a state visit to the US. It also contends it has taken a “prudent” approach to scaling back its mainland property investments, but denies that this means it is abandoning China.
According to the company, the number of retail stores it operates in mainland China has grown by 77% to 2,300 in the last two years.
Li also noted that freedom of speech is a “double-edged sword”, but in a riposte the Global Times advised him to get used to it, saying a “de-deification process” is underway to diminish the tycoon’s god-like status.
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