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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 Digital

From Teacher to Livestreamer: Ecommerce Move is Game Changer for China’s New Oriental Education

New Oriental is going from classroom to e-commerce. Online shopping has never been more educational.

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After laying off 60,000 staff last year, Chinese private education company New Oriental is now offering unexpected new employment opportunities for teachers in the livestream market. Changing e-commerce channels into virtual classrooms, New Oriental has hit the sweet spot with Chinese netizens.

Last year, an unprecedented crackdown on China’s private education sector left many teachers unemployed and worried about their future.

China’s so-called ‘double reduction’ (双减) policy was announced in August of 2021 and targeted “excessive homework” and off-campus tutoring for students in the mandatory nine-year education system. The new regulations imposed strict sanctions on existing private education institutions, forcing them to register as non-profit organizations. Foreign investment in the private tutoring sector was also banned.

One of the companies that was hit particularly hard by this policy is New Oriental (新东方), the largest provider of private educational services in China. Following the crackdown, the company suffered huge losses and dismissed 60,000 employees.

Facing the new regulations, including the ban on for-profit tutoring in subjects on the school curriculum, New Oriental tried to keep its head above water by exploring new markets and ideas within the private education sector. For example, the company launched a special program to train parents on how to tutor their K-12 children themselves. New Oriental called it their “excellent parenting” (优质父母) training class.

Now, nearly a year later, another initiative by New Oriental has become an online hit. Inspired by the success of livestream e-commerce in China, the tutoring company started its own livestream channels. Although New Oriental already introduced its e-commerce business in late 2021, with founder Yu Minhong (俞敏洪) sometimes hosting the sessions himself, it had not been as much of an online success until it recently introduced bilingual livestream e-commerce sessions.

Now, tutors-turned-sellers are teaching viewers English – or sometimes other subjects – while selling (agricultural) products via the Douyin app. Whether they are selling fruit, rice, or even shrimp, New Oriental’s livestream hosts are grabbing every opportunity to teach their viewers a new word or concept, often using a whiteboard to introduce new vocabulary.

Whatever they’re selling, New Oriental’s livestream hosts make sure it’s educational.

One reason for New Oriental becoming a viral hit is because of Dong Yuhui (董宇辉), who is one of the experienced teachers now selling products online. Dong’s bilingual livestreams are particularly successful among viewers because of his enthusiasm, fluency in English, witty jokes, personal stories, and talent for singing.

Teacher Dong recently had a breakthrough moment with his June 10th livestream, during which he sold bags of rice using English. He has since attracted over nine million viewers. While thanking all viewers for their support in a recent Weibo post, Dong described himself as a “ordinary peasant boy.”

Dong Yuhui (董宇辉) is one of the livestreamers that have turned New Oriental’s e-commerce into a viral hit.

Besides Dong, there are also other popular hosts. English teachers Ming Ming, Yoyo, and Dun Dun are all loved by viewers for their charm and wit.

Although various kinds of social e-commerce categories are particularly popular in China, this new phenomenon of combining education + e-commerce + livestream is appreciated by many netizens who like to learn something while being entertained and perhaps also buying something. “I don’t know whether to place an order or to make notes,” has become a popular comment. Another commenter said: “As a kid I took your class, and now I buy your goods.”

Others say that they like the calm way in which the livestreams are presented, posing a stark contrast to other livestreams where the hosts are hyping up products and urging people to buy fast and buy more.

On June 15th, news came out that New Oriental’s stocks had surged by more than 25% following its livestreaming success.

Although some Weibo users predict that this is just a temporary trend, others think that the educational livestream model is here to stay: “New Oriental really started a new business venture, and I’m learning a lot through their livestream sessions.”

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

Image via Weibo

Read related article: China’s Crackdown on Tutoring Schools: Concerned Parents and Teachers on Weibo

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China Books & Literature

Why Is Kindle Leaving China?

Many netizens are not happy over Kindle exiting the Chinese market: “We never know when the online services we use suddenly stop working.”

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Amazon announced on Thursday that it has stopped supplying retailers in China with its Kindle e-readers and that it will discontinue its Kindle e-bookstore in the Chinese market on June 30, 2023.

Amazon announced its Kindle exit in a statement on its official WeChat account, saying it was because of a shift in the strategic focus of its company’s operations.

For Chinese customers who have purchased e-books through Kindle, they will be able to continue downloading them until June 30 of 2024. Customers who would rather return the Kindle devices they bought in 2022 can get a refund.

On Weibo, the hashtags “Kindle Will Be Discontinued in China Next Year” (#Kindle中国明年停止电子书运营#) and “Why Wasn’t Kindle Able to Make It in China?” (#为什么Kindle在中国活不下去#) were hot topics on Thursday and Friday.

Some commenters said they were upset about Kindle being discontinued in China: “Why why why!! I really like Kindle and their e-bookstore, I check for interesting and new books on sale on a weekly basis. Which e-reader and e-bookstore are suitable substitutes?”

“Zhangyue, Hisense, Huawei, Onyx Boox, Tencent, Readmoo,.. there are actually a lot of brands,” one person responded, but some others said they still preferred Kindle.

“What do I do with my Kindle now? Just use it to cover my noodles?”

In 2021, Amazon’s Kindle was among the most popular e-book brands in China. Besides Amazon’s Kindle, China’s most popular e-reader brands include Onyx Boox, iFlytech, Zhangyue, Xiaomi, Hanvon, Tencent, Boyue, Obook, and Sony (see list).

Some commenters wrote that they understand that companies such as Amazon have to make some tough choices after facing pandemic-related setbacks in China, while there were also many netizens who blamed Kindle’s China exit on Chinese consumers illegally downloading pirated books instead of buying them at the Kindle store.

Others said that Kindle e-bookstore prices were often about the same as paper book prices, making the latter more appealing to people who like to read, especially if they also like to make notes in their books. In other words, they say the Kindle e-bookstore is simply too expensive for the Chinese market, where consumers can find many other options, both paper and digital ones.

“It’s not so complicated,” one Weibo user wrote: “It’s all because of market competition reasons. Kindle is facing the impact of Tencent’s influence on the e-reading market.”

Some people are really disappointed that the books they have bought through Kindle will become unavailable to them, and some wondered if this was legal with regards to consumer rights.

One popular economic blogger wrote: “Kindle has now withdrawn [from China]. Many years ago, when different kinds of online storage spaces starting closing down, I learned one thing: never fully trust internet storage services. Your study material, the things you wrote, your video records, you need to back them up. We never know when the online services we use suddenly stop working.”

By Manya Koetse

Image via Weibo

Featured images by Weibo blogger @钟文泽.

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