Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka Shing tells city's leaders to 'have mercy' in dealing with protests

Mr Li Ka Shing described recent months of protests as Hong Kong's worst crisis since World War II.
Mr Li Ka Shing described recent months of protests as Hong Kong's worst crisis since World War II.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong's richest man urged the government to "have mercy" in dealing with the unrest that has rocked the city this summer, describing recent months of protests as its worst crisis since World War II.

Mr Li Ka Shing, whose conglomerate is among Hong Kong's most dominant business empires, on Sunday called for reconciliation between the government and protesters as another weekend of demonstrations turned violent.

"If it continues, it will be very bad, and I am concerned," the 91-year-old said during an event at Tsz Shan Monastery, a Buddhist temple which he helped finance. "We hope young people can consider the big picture, and government leaders can also have mercy on the masters of our future."

A spokesman for CK Hutchison Holdings, Mr Li's flagship ports-to-telecom conglomerate, confirmed his remarks.

Small pockets of demonstrators on Sunday set fires, vandalised subway stations and set up barricades downtown after tens of thousands marched peacefully to the US consulate.

The dramatic images in the heart of Hong Kong served as the latest reminder that three months of demonstrations against China's grip over the city are unlikely to end soon.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam last week said she would formally withdraw a Bill allowing extraditions to the mainland, which triggered the escalation in protests in early June. But demonstrators now have a host of other demands, and Beijing has ruled out the biggest one: the right to elect a leader of their choosing.

In newspaper advertisements last month, Mr Li called for an end to the violence in a poetic message that some interpreted as calling for those in power to stop persecution, while others said it meant to urge protesters to stop disrupting the city.