Minitrue: Li Ka-shing Leaving Mainland

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Stop hyping reports and commentaries on divesting from inland [China]. (September 19, 2015) [Chinese]

A September 13 editorial by the Xinhua-affiliated Liaowang Institute chastised Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing for transitioning his business out of China. The piece, titled “Don’t Let Li Ka-shing Run Away,” casts Li as ungrateful and immoral for leaving China behind as the economy cools. From Verna Yu at the South China Morning Post:

“At this sensitive time when China’s economy is in crisis, he keeps selling his assets and spreading pessimistic sentiment … He has fallen from the moral high ground,” the article charged.

It said Li had not grown rich from a level-playing field in a market economy, but owed his success to his connections with top officials, who had given him access to prime locations, often at hugely discounted prices. [Source]

The People’s Daily echoed the Liaowang Institute in an editorial published today, questioning the morality and legality of “abandoning” the country and his high-powered beneficiaries.

Li has been selling his mainland and Hong Kong assets for several years. In January, he began an intricate restructuring of his holdings, merging his non-property businesses into CK Hutchison, based in the Cayman Islands.

Li is known as “Superman” for his canny market predictions, so his withdrawal from China is construed by many as a negative prognosis of the country’s economic health. A leaked propaganda directive from May 2014 instructs media websites to “delete the piece ‘The Secret of Li Ka-shing’s Disinvestment on the Mainland: No Sense of Security.’

Following stock market tumbles in July and August, Xinhua and the Central Propaganda Department instructed the media to keep economic reporting “upbeat” in September. State media have been calling on the public to refrain from selling stocks as an act of patriotism.

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.