The Men Who Rule Hong Kong

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How did a small handful of tycoons come to rule over an entire city? Simple: They accumulated your wealth

In this age of bank bail-outs, bonuses and global recession, it’s a bit passé to champion the mega-rich. But a decade ago, you could hardly pick up a glossy magazine without having it thrust in your face: Asia’s Richest 100 or Greater China’s Wealthiest 50 – endless pages of smiling, soft-focused, tastefully lit tycoons with their mouth-watering vital statistics printed in bold alongside. Counting down through the ranks of these ultra-prosperous, you would find owners of well-known Japanese brands, a few whizz-kid entrepreneurs and even some women. But as you got to the serious multi-billionaires in the top 10, the profiles became noticeably similar: all male, all mature and mostly all from Hong Kong.

What put these Hongkongers at the peak of a continent’s private wealth? And what contribution to mankind did this small group of alpha males make? If your answer is ‘damn all’, you are, unfortunately, pretty much correct. ‘Unfortunately’ because as a Hong Kong resident, it is your wealth they have accumulated, simply by being impossible to avoid. Not only do they dominate Hong Kong’s domestic economy, they seem to have the government at their command as well. And their position looks unassailable: a recent list of Asia’s Richest has them occupying third, fifth and sixth spots in a line-up that embraces nouveau-riche Mainlanders, India’s rising mega-moguls and a Saudi prince.

This feature asks who the tycoons are, what they did to accumulate such massive wealth and how their dominance affects us individually and as a society. We will also ask why this system persists and why the new administration taking over on July 1 will continue to put the tycoons before the community.

SKIP TO SECTION

THE BIG FOUR FAMILIES:
A Closer look at Hong Kong's landed aristocracy

Li Ka-shing
Thomas and Raymond Kwok
Lee Shau-kee
Cheng Yu-tung

ONE DEGREE OF SEPARATION
Every dollar you earn will eventually filter back into the pockets of the tycoons

MOM & POP STORE OWNERS
You can give in to the tycoons - or keep it in the family

EVIL OVERLORDS OR LUCKY DEVILS?
How we have unwittingly helped make five men multi-billionaires
 

 

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