Hong Kong’s Richest Man Giving $127 Million to Help Local Businesses Survive Political Upheaval

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Under fire from Beijing for seeking leniency for Hong Kong’s young protesters, billionaire Li Ka-shing is giving away more money to help heal a city roiled by months of political unrest.

The Li Ka-shing Foundation said Friday that it would donate HK$1 billion ($127 million) to help local small and medium firms weather the “unprecedented challenges” facing the city’s economy. The move comes less than two months after the charity gave $64 million to a local university.

The 91-year-old tycoon has become more vocal about investing in the future of Hong Kong since protests against a controversial extradition bill in mid-June turned into a wider and often-violent anti-Beijing movement. As clashes escalated, Li called for an end to violence — a message that contrasted with those of his local peers who supported the government’s crackdown.

Last month, Li pleaded with the administration to show mercy on the city’s youth, while imploring pro-democracy activists to show more understanding. But China’s highest law-enforcement body, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, lashed out by accusing Li of encouraging crime.

In June, Li’s foundation announced an annual grant of 100 million yuan ($14 million) to Shantou University in mainland China to help pay students’ tuition. In August, the charity donated HK$500 million to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for a research facility.

The latest donation sets an example and the foundation welcomes all sectors to provide feedback, Li said in the statement. The charity will discuss with the government how to distribute the money, it said.

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