Hong Kong’s richest man defends Beijing’s national security law

May 27, 2020, 5:24 AM UTC

Hong Kong’s richest tycoon Li Ka-shing defended a national security law drafted by Beijing, in his first comment on the proposal that has triggered fresh protests in the city.

“It is within each and every nation’s sovereign right to address its national security concerns,” the 91-year-old billionaire said in a text message sent by his representatives. “We probably need not over-interpret it. Hopefully the proposed new law can allay concerns the central government has in Hong Kong and give rise to a positive outlook from there.”

Li also called on the Hong Kong government to maintain international trust and strengthen its citizens’ faith in the “one country, two systems” principle.

China’s government last week announced it would write a new national security law into Hong Kong’s charter following months of pro-democracy demonstrations seen as challenging its authority. The city’s $363 billion economy is also battling a recession, with the second blow coming from the coronavirus pandemic that’s decimated industries from retail to tourism.

The proposed measure is expected to pass in the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, before the end of its annual session May 28. The lack of details surrounding the new law has generated alarm among some businesses and lawyers, while Beijing has sought to reassure Hong Kong that its judiciary would remain independent.

A net worth of about $25 billion makes Li Hong Kong’s richest person, and the seventh wealthiest in Asia, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.