Protests have disrupted life in Hong Kong for 10 weeks, closing streets, disrupting flights at its airport, and causing volatility in the stock market. The market rout has cost Hong Kong’s 10 wealthiest citizens over $15 billion collectively, the Financial Times estimates. Several of the city’s wealthiest citizens have had enough, including its richest man Li Ka-Shing.
Li took out advertisements in local Hong Kong newspapers calling for an end to the protests on August 15, The South China Morning Post reported. The ads feature the Chinese word for “violence” covered in a general prohibition sign (red circle with a slash through it), with “stop anger and violence in the name of love,” written below. The ads are signed “a Hong Kong resident Li Ka-shing”. Mentions of Li’s statements were blocked on social media in mainland China, the Morning Post reported.
Li alone has lost $3 billion since July, according to the Financial Times. Often called “Superman,” the 90-year-old billionaire now has a net worth of $27 billion. According to Forbes.Li, who was born in China but moved to Hong Kong in 1940 to escape a Japanese invasion, began his career as a factory worker. He built his fortune as a real-estate developer and major investor in port operator and cell phone carrier CK Hutchison Holdings.
Billionaire real-estate developer Peter Woo wrote, “It’s time to think deeply,”in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on August 12, according to Bloomberg. “Going against the extradition bill was the ‘big tree’ of this movement. This one and only big appeal has already been accepted by the government, so this tree has fallen,” he added.
Over $1 billion has been wiped off of Woo’s personal net worth since the protests began, according to Bloomberg. Woo is now worth $11 billion. According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Woo is the eighth-richest person in Hong Kong.
Swire Pacific, the owner of airline Cathay Pacific — the flag carrier of Hong Kong — also released a statement on August 13 calling for an end to the protester’s “illegal activities and violent behavior.”
“Swire Pacific is deeply concerned by the ongoing violence and disruption impacting Hong Kong,” the Hong Kong-based conglomerate said in the statement. The company also said it supports law enforcement and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam “in their efforts to restore law and order.”
The real-estate developer run by Asia’s third-richest family, the Kwoks, has also called for an end to the unrest. “The recent series of violent acts to challenge the rule of law have damaged Hong Kong’s economy and seriously affect citizens’ daily life,”Sun Hung Kai Properties said in a statement, according to a translation by Bloomberg. The Kwok family is worth $40.4 billion, according to Forbes
The net worths of Hong Kong’s billionaires are unusually sensitive to market volatility, Business Insider previously reported. In 2018, Hong Kong’s high net worth population experienced the steepest drop in collective wealth of any region worldwide, according to French technology consulting firm Capgemini. The net worths of Hong Kong’s wealthiest residents fell 13% in 2018, compared to the global average of 3%, per Capgemini.
Thousands took to the streets of Hong Kong beginning in July over an extradition bill with mainland China but have since expanded their focus to police actions and their democratic system, Business Insider previously reported. Protesters blocked departure gates in Hong Kong’s airport on August 13, causing hundreds of flights to be canceled. The protesters held signs apologizing to would-be passengers, saying they are “fighting for our freedom.”
On Wednesday morning, ABC News reported, flights at the airport resumed.
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