Hong Kong protests: Tycoon Li Ka Shing calls on protesters to go home

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing on Wednesday urged pro-democracy protesters who have occupied the heart of the city for more than two weeks to go home to their families, a day after 45 people were arrested following clashes with police. -- PHOTO:&n
Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing on Wednesday urged pro-democracy protesters who have occupied the heart of the city for more than two weeks to go home to their families, a day after 45 people were arrested following clashes with police. -- PHOTO: LI KA SHING FOUNDATION

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing on Wednesday urged pro-democracy protesters who have occupied the heart of the city for more than two weeks to go home to their families, a day after 45 people were arrested following clashes with police.

Mr Li, Asia's richest man and chairman of property developer Cheung Kong (Holdings), also said in a statement that if the rule of law broke down it would be the "greatest sorrow" for the Chinese-controlled city.

It was the first time he had made public comments on the protests.

Mr Li’s statement came a day after Hong Kong police arrested 45 protesters, as police cleared a main road in the city that had been barricaded by pro-democracy demonstrators with concrete slabs.

Mr Li’s corporate headquarters were at the front line of the protests this week when hundreds of police used sledge-hammers and chainsaws to tear down barriers erected by demonstrators in the heart of the business district.

The octogenarian was among a group of Hong Kong tycoons who visited Beijing in September to discuss issues including Hong Kong affairs with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a closed-door meeting.The delegation also included Henderson Land Development’s Mr Lee Shau Kee and New World Development’s Mr Henry Cheng, according to local media reports.