Mr Li was born in 1928 in Chiu Chow, a coastal city in the southeastern part of China. Mr Li was forced to quit school when he was 12 and fled to Hong Kong with his family to avoid the perils of war. Shortly thereafter, his father suffered from tuberculosis and passed away in Hong Kong. Before he was 15, Mr Li had to shoulder the responsibility of providing for his family and found a job in a plastics trading company where he labored 16 hours a day. By 1950, his hard work, prudence and his pursuit of excellence had enabled him to start his own company, Cheung Kong Industries. From manufacturing plastics, Mr Li led and developed his company into a leading real estate investment company in Hong Kong that was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972. Cheung Kong continued to expand by acquiring Hutchison Whampoa and Hongkong Electric Holdings Limited (renamed Power Assets Holdings Limited) in 1979 and 1985 respectively.
With roots in Hong Kong, the Cheung Kong Group's businesses now span the globe, encompassing such diverse areas as property development and investment, real estate agency and estate management, hotels, telecommunications and e-commerce, finance and investments, retail, ports and related services, energy, infrastructure projects and materials, media, and biotechnology. Mr Li is a strong believer in synergy—the power of combined efforts. This belief is reflected in his naming his company Cheung Kong after the Yangtze River that flows through China, a great river that aggregates countless streams and tributaries. The Times in the United Kingdom and Ernst & Young UK jointly named Mr Li as the Entrepreneur of the Millennium at the turn of the century.
Established in 1980 by Mr Li Ka-shing, the Li Ka Shing Foundation (LKSF) has three strategic focuses: nurture a new culture of giving; support education reform initiatives; and advance medical research and services. Mr. Li considers the Foundation to be his “third son” and has pledged one-third of his assets to it. With initiatives spread over 27 countries and regions, LKSF supports projects that promote social progress through expanding access to quality education and medical services and research, encouraging cultural diversity and community involvement. To date, over HK$20 billion (US$2.56 billion) has been put to work to support all our initiatives, 87% of which benefit projects in the Greater China region.
In 1981, Mr Li founded Shantou University (STU), the only privately funded public university in China with earmarked grants of HK$8 billion through 2018. STU is the cornerstone project of the foundation and a platform to instigate reforms in the higher education sector in China. To date, Shantou University has educated over 110,000 students, including approximately 40,000 medical school students.
In recognition of his philanthropic efforts and his contributions to society, Mr Li has received Honorary Doctorates from the University of Cambridge, the University of Calgary in Canada, Peking University, and the University of Hong Kong, among others. Mr Li, a Justice of the Peace, has also received the Grand Officer of the Order Vasco Nunez de Balboa from Panama, The Commander in the Leopold Order from Belgium, Knight (Commander of the Order) of the British Empire, the Grand Bauhinia Medal of Hong Kong, and the Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur from the French Government.
Mr Li has two sons. The elder son, Victor, now serves as Group Co-Managing Director and Deputy Chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited, Managing Director and Deputy Chairman of Cheung Kong Property Holdings Limited, and Chairman of Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Limited and CK Life Sciences Int’l., (Holdings) Inc. Mr Li's younger son, Richard, is Chairman of PCCW, one of Asia's leading information technology and telecommunications companies.
16 December 2015