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Hong Kong ‘Super-business-man’ Li Ka-shing Announces Retirement at 90 Years Old

Ryan Gandolfo

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The beloved Hong Kong business ‘Superman’ Sir Li Ka-Shing officially announced his retirement – at 90 years old.

He is called ‘Superman’, he is known as Hong Kong’s richest man, and is said to be ‘Asia’s answer to Warren Buffet.’ Chinese business magnate Li Ka-Shing (李嘉誠) announced his retirement during a press conference on March 16.

With an estimated wealth over $34 billion dollars, Li, chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, is the 23rd wealthiest person in the world, as well as the wealthiest person in Hong Kong. His business spans the fields of shipping, retail, construction, telecommunications, and energy.

Li was born in 1928 in Chaozhou, Guangdong, but moved to Hong Kong during World War II. The young Li started from a company making plastic flowers, and soon bloomed into one of China’s most successful entrepreneurs.

His first acquisition, back in 1979, made him the first Chinese-born businessman to buy a British trading company. His next notable purchase occurred seven years later when the global oil prices fell to $11 per barrel. At a time of market hysteria, Li Ka Shing made the bold move to buy controlling shares in Canada’s Husky oil company. He has since referred to the acquisition as “the greatest investment” in his lifetime.

Li Ka-shing during press conference.

Li Ka-Shing’s investments have even stretched to England’s energy and water sector. According to the Financial Times, roughly 25% of the electric market, 30% of the natural gas market, and close to 7% of the supplied water market are under Li Ka-Shing and his company’s ownership.

It is Li’s work ethic, along with his frugality and modesty, which made that he is often compared to Warren Buffet. Li is also an active philanthropist, like Buffett, providing grants and scholarships through his Li Ka Shing Foundation.

In Friday’s conference, Li announce that Victor, his eldest son, will take over as chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, while Li will play an advisory role.  He also stated he will focus on his charity foundation in his retirement.

The reactions to his retirement on Chinese social media have mainly highlighted the respect netizens have for Li Ka Shing as a businessman. One netizen recalled Li’s famous “coin story” reminding people not to waste money and our role in the economy.

According to this blog, the story is a follows:

One day, Li was driven back home after work. When Li got off from his car, he dropped a $10 coin, and the coin rolled underneath the car. Li bent down and stretched his hand under the car in order to grab it back. With Li’s age, he was not able to do so even after a few tries. Li’s driver saw the situation, and asked, “Mr Li, what are you doing? Is there anything I can do for you?” Li told him that he lost his $10 coin. The driver took off his jacket, knelt down and grabbed the $10 coin out from beneath the car, and gave it back to Li. Li smiled, and happily put the $10 coin into his pocket. He then took out a $100 note, and gave to the driver as appreciation.Li said to the interviewer, “It’s not about the value of the money. I gave my driver $100, he would spend it and make use of it. If I didn’t pick up the $10 coin, it would be lost forever and wasted.”

Another person simply posted: “A person like Li Ka Shing just can’t retire,” while other praise Li for how he treated other people.

“He’s a legendary business person of his generation,” commenters on Toutiao.com say.

Others are more moderate, simply saying: “He’s pretty cool.”

Interested to read more about Chinese legendary business persons? Read the story of Tao Huabi, Lao Gan Ma’s spicy godmother.

By Ryan Gandolfo

  • Featured image: Li on the cover of the Far East Economic Review magazine in 1981. He earned the nickname ‘Superman’ through his impressive business dealings and foresight in the market.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Ryan Gandolfo is an Economics graduate from Miami who has worked and lived in Shanghai, Baoding, and Guangzhou. He is interested in China's growing role in the global economy and closely follows the development of major Chinese technology firms. 

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China Celebs

Female Comedian Yang Li and the Intel Controversy

A decision that backfired: Intel’s act of supposed ‘inclusion’ caused the exclusion of female comedian Yang Li.

Manya Koetse

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“How to look at the boycott of Yang Li?” (#如何看待抵制杨笠#) became a top trending topic on social media site Weibo on Monday after female comedian Yang Li was dismissed as the spokesperson for American tech company Intel over a controversial ad campaign.

On March 18, Intel released an ad on its Weibo account in which Yang says “Intel has a taste [for laptops] that is higher than my taste for men” (“英特尔的眼光太高了,比我挑对象的眼光都高.”)

The ad drew complaints for allegedly insulting men, with some social media users vowing to boycott the tech brand. On Sunday, Intel deleted the ad in question from its social media page and reportedly also removed Yang from her position as their brand ambassador.

The commotion over the ad had more to do with Chinese comedian Yang Li (杨笠) than with the specific lines that were featured in it.

Yang Li is controversial for her jokes mocking men (“men are adorable, but mysterious. After all, they can look so average and yet be so full of confidence“), with some blaming her for being “sexist” and “promoting hatred against all men.”

Since she appeared on the stand-up comedy TV competition Rock and Roast (脱口秀大会) last year, she was nicknamed the the “punchline queen” and became one of the more influential comedians in present-day China. Yang now has nearly 1,5 million fans on Weibo (@-杨笠-).

Yang Li’s bold jokes and sharp way of talking about gender roles and differences between men and women in Chinese society is one of the main reasons she became so famous. Intel surely knew this when asking Yang to be their brand ambassador.

In light of the controversy, the fact that Intel was so quick to remove Yang also triggered criticism. Some (male) netizens felt that Intel, a company that sells laptops, could not be represented by a woman who makes fun of men, while these men are a supposed target audience for Intel products.

But after Yang was removed, many (female) netizens also felt offended, suggesting that in the 21st century, Intel couldn’t possibly believe that their products were mainly intended for men (“以男性用户为主”)? Wasn’t their female customer base just as important?

According to online reports, Intel responded by saying: “We noted that the content [we] spread relating to Yang Li caused controversy, and this is not what we had anticipated. We place great importance on diversity and inclusion. We fully recognize and value the diverse world we live in, and are committed to working with partners from all walks of life to create an inclusive workplace and social environment.”

However, Intel’s decision backfired, as many wondered why having Yang as their brand ambassador would not go hand in hand with ‘promoting an inclusive social environment.’

“Who are you being ‘inclusive’ too? Common ‘confident’ men?”, one person wrote, with others saying: “Why can so many beauty and cosmetic brands be represented by male idols and celebrities? I loathe these double standards.”

“As a Chinese guy, I really think Yang Li is funny. I didn’t realize Chinese men had such a lack of humor!” another Weibo user writes.

There are also people raising the issue of Yang’s position and how people are confusing her performative work with her actual character. One popular law blogger wrote: “Really, boycotting Yang Li is meaningless. Stand-up comedy is a performance, just as the roles people play in a TV drama.”

Just a month ago, another Chinese comedian also came under fire for his work as a brand ambassador for female underwear brand Ubras.

It is extremely common in China for celebrities to be brand ambassadors; virtually every big celebrity is tied to one or more brands. Signing male celebrities to promote female-targeted products is also a popular trend (Li 2020). Apparently, there is still a long way to go when the tables are turned – especially when it is about female celebrities with a sharp tongue.

By Manya Koetse

Li, Xiaomeng. 2020. “How powerful is the female gaze? The implication of using male celebrities for promoting female cosmetics in China.” Global Media and China, Vol.5 (1), p.55-68.

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Celebs

Chinese Comedian Li Dan under Fire for Promoting Lingerie Brand with Sexist Slogan

Underwear so good that it can “help women lie to win in the workplace”? Sexist and offensive, according to many Weibo users.

Manya Koetse

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Popular talk show host and comedian Li Dan (李诞) has sparked controversy on Chinese social media this week for a statement he made while promoting female underwear brand Ubras.

The statement was “让女性轻松躺赢职场”, which loosely translates to “make it easy for women to win in the workplace lying down” or “make women win over the workplace without doing anything,” a slogan with which Li Dan seemed to imply that women could use their body and sex to their advantage at work. According to the underwear brand, the idea allegedly was to convey how comfortable their bras are. (The full sentence being “一个让女性躺赢职场的装备”: “equipment that can help women lie to win in the workplace”).

Li Dan immediately triggered anger among Chinese netizens after the controversial content was posted on his Weibo page on February 24. Not only did many people feel that it was inappropriate for a male celebrity to promote female underwear, they also took offense at the statement. What do lingerie and workplace success have to do with each other at all, many people wondered. Others also thought the wording was ambiguous on purpose, and was still meant in a sexist way.

Various state media outlets covered the incident, including the English-language Global Times.

By now, the Ubras underwear brand has issued an apology on Weibo for the “inappropriate wording” in their promotion campaign, and all related content has been removed.

The brand still suggested that the slogan was not meant in a sexist way, writing: “Ubras is a women’s team-oriented brand. We’ve always stressed ‘comfort and wearability as the essence of [our] lingerie, and we’re committed to providing women with close-fitting clothing solutions that are unrestrained and more comfortable so that more women can deal with fatigue in their life and work with a more relaxed state of mind and body.”

Li Dan also wrote an apology on Weibo on February 25, saying his statement was inappropriate. Li Dan has over 9 million followers on his Weibo account.

The objectification of women by brands and media has been getting more attention on Chinese social media lately. Earlier this month, the Spring Festival Gala was criticized for including jokes and sketches that were deemed insensitive to women. Last month, an ad by Purcotton also sparked controversy for showing a woman wiping away her makeup to scare off a male stalker, with many finding the ad sexist and hurtful to women.

 
By Manya Koetse
with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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