Hong Kong tycoons offer land for hospitals to aid Covid-19 fight

Solutions like allowing the government to build hospitals on private land and converting their hotels to quarantine centres were offered. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong's richest tycoons pledged to help bring the city's worst Covid-19 outbreak under control by offering land for makeshift hospitals.

They made the offer on Friday (Feb 18) at an online conference hosted by Mr Luo Huining, the head of the Chinese central government's powerful Liaison Office in the city, days after President Xi Jinping called on the city to take "all necessary measures" to contain the health crisis.

Some of the city's wealthiest men who joined the meeting include Sun Hung Kai Properties' Mr Raymond Kwok, Mr Li Ka-shing's son Richard Li, Henderson Land Development's Mr Peter Lee, New World Development's Mr Adrian Cheng and Sino Land's Mr Robert Ng.

Speaking in Mandarin instead of Cantonese, which is the native tongue for the majority of the population in Hong Kong, the tycoons acknowledged the urgent need to ease the pandemic situation in Hong Kong.

They offered solutions including allowing the government to build hospitals on private land, converting their hotels to quarantine centres and donating to people in need.

"The pandemic is worsening quickly and Hong Kong is facing an unprecedented challenge," Mr Lee said in the live-streamed meeting. "I want to thank the country's strong support for Hong Kong", referring to the mainland.

Mr Lee said the company could offer its land to build makeshift cabin hospitals if the government needs it, and his views were echoed by New World's Mr Cheng as well.

Ever since Hong Kong's pricey homes were attributed by Chinese state media as the catalyst for the pro-democracy protests of 2019, local property tycoons have increased charitable efforts, including donating land for social housing projects.

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