Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing called publicly on Friday for an end to violence – with a warning that “the best cause can end with the worst result”.
Li published two different types of advertisements on the front page of several local newspapers, offering slightly ambiguous views on the actions on both protesters and the government.
The 91-year-old founder of Cheung Kong Holdings released the advertisements under the name of “a Hong Kong citizen Li Ka-shing”.
In one ad, a large stop sign was printed over the word “violence”. Alongside it said: “In the name of love, stop anger” and “Love China, love Hong Kong, love rule of law, love inclusion, love freedom and love yourself”.
Another ad, published in newspapers like the pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao, had an ancient Chinese poem, which Li recalled he had also published earlier.
The tycoon had used the same poem when commenting on the Mong Kok riots in 2016 at the company’s annual general meeting. The poem alludes to regret about some people causing further damage to Hong Kong, but in the ad released on Friday, Li didn’t specify who he was referring to.
‘One country, two systems’
A spokesperson for Li issued a bilingual statement, saying the city’s wealthiest man supports the ‘One Country Two Systems’ policy and believes people “need to cherish ourselves, our identity as Chinese and a Hong Kong citizen, just as we treasure freedom, empathy and the rule of law”.
Li said the government had heard the messages from protesters loud and clear and was diligently racking their brains for solutions, adding that he never regretted investing in young people. He urged them not to let their passions today turn to regrets tomorrow.
When asked why he used two different kinds of advertisements, Li said in the statement that, “today there is no single one message to different types of beings”.
Li’s ads went viral on social media. Online citizens praised his wisdom by citing the origin of the ancient poem and its meaning.
The ancient poem was said to have been written by a son of late Tang dynasty’s empress Wu Zetian, the only female employer in China. Wu went after her own sons even as she sustained her power.