In advertisements released in several local newspapers, the retired billionaire – who is affectionately called “Superman” by locals – offered ambiguous, if not intriguing, views on the actions of the protesters and the government.
The founder of Cheung Kong Holdings released two different advertisements in both Chinese and English newspapers, under the name “a Hong Kong citizen Li Ka-shing”.
In one of the ads, which had a stop sign over the words which said “in the name of love, stop the anger” and “love China, love Hong Kong, love rule of law, love inclusion, love freedom and love yourself”.
In the other ad, published in newspapers like the pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao, had an ancient Chinese poem, which Li recalled he had used earlier too.
The tycoon had used the same poem when commenting on the Mong Kok riots three years ago. The poem alluded to the regret about some people causing further damage to Hong Kong, but in the ad released on Friday, Li didn’t specify who he is referring to.
After the ads appeared in the newspapers, a spokesman for Li issued a statement saying the billionaire supports One Country, Two systems and believe people should respect and treasure it.
In his statement, Li said he never regretted investing in youngsters and urge them not to let their today’s passion turns to regrets tomorrow. He also said he feels the government is trying their best when they heard the loud thundering voice from the youth.
As for the use of two kinds of adverts, Li said that’s because there isn’t a single language or way to communicate in a complex times like now.
The advertisements set off immediate chatter on the internet, particularly about the origin of the ancient poem and its meaning.
Some found the poem was written by a son of Empress Wu Zetian – the only female emperor in China – who went after even her own sons to sustain her power.
While some comments on a popular online forum said Li has been wise with his words and likened Empress Wu with the Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
But some comments posted in chat rooms were critical of Li, saying he was just a selfish businessman defending his interests.