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

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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

China’s Livestreaming Queen Viya Goes Viral for Fraud and Fines, Ordered to Pay $210 Million

Viya, the Queen of Taobao, is under fire for tax evasion.

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Viya, one of China’s most well-known and successful live streamers, is trending today for allegedly committing tax fraud by deliberately providing false information and concealing personal income.

The ‘Taobao queen’ Viya (薇娅, real name Huang Wei 黄薇) reportedly committed tax fraud from 2019 to 2020, during which she evaded some 643 million yuan ($100 million) in taxes and also failed to pay an additional 60 million yuan ($9.4 million) in taxes.

The Hangzhou Tax Administration Office reportedly ordered Viya to pay an amount of over 1.3 billion yuan ($210 million) in taxes, late payment fees, and other fines. On Monday, a hashtag related to the issue had garnered over 600 million views on Weibo (#薇娅偷逃税被追缴并处罚款13.41亿元#).

Viya made headlines in English-language media earlier this year when she participated in a promotional event for Single’s Day on October 20th and managed to sell 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in merchandise in just one live streaming session together with e-commerce superstar Lipstick King.

China has a booming livestreaming e-commerce market, and Viya is one of the top influencers to have joined the thriving online sales industry years ago. When the e-commerce platform Taobao started their Taobao Live initiative (mixing online sales with livestreams), Viya became one of their top sellers as millions of viewers starting joining her channel every single day (she livestreams daily at 7.30 pm).

With news about Viya’s tax fraud practices and enormous fines going viral on Chinese social media, many are attacking the top influencer, as her tax fraud case seems to be even bigger than that of Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (范冰冰).

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing went “missing” for months back in 2018 when she was at the center of a tax evasion scandal. The actress was ordered to pay taxes and fines worth hundreds of millions of yuan over tax evasion. The famous actress eventually paid approximately $128,5 million in taxes and fines, less than Viya was ordered to pay this month.

Like Fan Bingbing, Viya will also not be held criminally liable if the total amount is paid in time. This was the first time for the e-commerce star to be “administratively punished” for tax evasion.

Around 5pm on Monday, Viya posted a public apology on her Weibo account, saying she takes on full responsibility for the errors she made: “I was wrong, and I will bear all the consequences for my mistakes. I’m so sorry!”

It is not clear if she will still do her daily live stream later today and how this news will impact Viya’s future career.

Update: Vaya’s live stream was canceled.

Update 2: Vaya’s husband also issued an apology on Weibo.

Update 3: Taobao has suspended or ‘frozen’ (“冻结”) Vaya’s livestreaming channel. Her Taobao store is still online.

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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China Fashion & Beauty

Chinese Fashion Brand Peacebird Accused of Plagiarism (Again!)

The Chinese fashion brand Peacebird turns out to be a copycat.

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The Chinese fashion brand Peacebird (太平鸟) is trending on Chinese social media this week for its alleged involvement in various cases of plagiarism. The brand is accused of producing exact copies of garments designed by other labels. Hashtag “Peacebird Repeatedly Accused of Plagiarism” (#太平鸟多次被控抄袭#) drew in over 230 million views on Weibo.

In late October of this year, fashion blogger and small fashion brand @SOS_SEAMSTRESS called out Peacebird on Weibo for plagiarizing one of their designs.

Besides changing the material used for the garment, the Peacebird outfit is an exact copy of the design by SOS Seamstress – even the buttons and pockets and other details are exactly the same. The price, however, is five times higher.

Left: the Peacebird garment. Right: the original design by SOS Seamstress.

Left, Peacebird. Right, SOS Seamstress design.

SOS Seamstress condemned Peacebird for claiming to have their own original fashion designs, produced by their in-house design team, while actually stealing from others and completely disregarding the rights of domestic local designers.

It is the fifth time this year that the fashion house is accused of plagiarism. Beijing Business News reported that other brands, including Mostwantedlab and Annomundi, previously also accused Peacebird of stealing their designs. In February of this year, the artist @LOONY_FACE also publicly exposed Peacebird for using his designs without his permission.

Left Annomundi, right Peacebird.

Left Annomundi, right Peacebird.

Chinese netizens have further researched other clothing brands that Peacebird allegedly plagiarized, including UNALLOYED, Moussy, Off-White, FREI, Maje, and other domestic and international brands.

Design by Maje (left), and the dress by Peacebird (right).

Various Chinese media outlets, including Beijing Business News, call it noteworthy that Peacebird’s response to these plagiarism accusations is not an apology but a simple statement that “original brands can go through legal channels.” Meanwhile, the company has allegedly also taken down the designs that have been pointed out as copies.

Peacebrand is a fashion retail brand established in Ningbo in 1996. The company also holds various smaller brands such as LEDIN (乐町) and Material Girl. The fashion company claims to have approximately 12,000 employees in its stores, headquarters and factories. In 2018, it made its first debut at New York Fashion Week.

Among all the people commenting on this issue, there are many who think that although ‘borrowing’ popular designs has always been a part of the fashion industry, doing an exact copy is uncommon and unacceptable – especially for such a large company as Peacebird. “Shameless!”, multiple commenters say.

“I once bought an embroidered garment at Peacebird’s, and then later saw the same design from a brand I didn’t know. I thought it was copied from Peacebird, but now I think it might’ve been the other way around,” one person writes.

“I’m shocked that the national brand Peacebird would plagiarize while waving the flag of originality,” another commenter says.

“Plagiarizing one time, ok, but plagiarizing so many times and then even doing one on one copies, how can they run a business?!”

There are also those who hope that the current focus on Peacebird’s alleged plagiarism will lead to more attention for smaller, original brands in China.

To read more about the recent surge in popularity of domestic brands in China, see: “Chinese Fashion First: Consumer Nationalism and ‘China Chic’.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

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

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