Blog Archives

Billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Path to Success: Biography and Timeline

Billionaire Li Ka-shing's Path to Success

At 88, Li Ka-shing (b. 29-July-1928) is the richest man in Asia, with a networth of almost $35 billion, and one of the most powerful people in the world, but he began life as a impoverished war refugee.

Here is a chronicle of Li’s systematic rise from poverty and life as a plastic flower salesman to one of the world’s richest individuals with investments in banks, container ports, digital and traditional media, energy, property, and various other businesses.

  • 'Li Ka-shing Hong Kong's Elusive Billionaire' by Anthony B. Chan (ISBN 0195900766) 1928: Born in Chaozhou in China’s Guangdong Province to a school-principal father.
  • 1940: With the Japanese invading, his father packs up the family and flees to Hong Kong. Dad dies from tuberculosis two years afterward; at 12 Li joined an uncle’s plastic-watch-strap company watch company to help with his household’s rent. “The great tug of war and the taste of povert—-they are hardly memories one can forget,” Li says.
  • 1950: He quits and starts his own small business making plastic toys, shortly switching to plastic flowers. More than a decade later, riots in Hong Kong push down property values, giving him the chance to buy up commercial real estate on the cheap. As time wore on and the war ended, young Li weighed where his future lay. The Chinese nationalists were finished, he calculated, so he laid business stakes in Hong Kong. With money tight, he skipped movies and shaved his head to extend the time between haircuts, he says. What he didn’t forgo was reading–used books, manuals, leftover journals. He credits superior preparation–he was often self-taught–for his gains. When he famously gained a manufacturing foothold with the plastic flowers in the 1950s, he says, he was able to engineer critical molding machinery with an injection process made using a Coca-Cola bottle and a plastic straw, using something he saw in Modern Plastics as a guide.
  • 'Li Ka-shing No Accidental Success' by Li Yongning (ISBN 751134352X) 1972: Li lists his holding company Cheung Kong Ltd., in Hong Kong. Investors can’t get enough. The IPO is oversubscribed more than 65-fold.
  • 1978: Li visited China, after Deng Xiaoping’s reforms had begun. He later recalled, “I went to see some friends in the guesthouse. They would write notes to me because they were afraid of being eavesdropped on. They had been scared by the Cultural Revolution. Today they can openly criticize the government.”
  • 1979: Li becomes the earliest ethnic Chinese to buy a controlling stake in one of the old British trading houses, the then-struggling Hutchinson Whampoa.
  • 1979: Li begins his foray into the port business began, when he bought control of Hutchison Whampoa, a British trading house that had long dominated Hong Kong’s economy but had been struggling. One of the assets was a successful container-terminal operation in Hong Kong.
  • 'Asian Godfathers Money and Power' by Joe Studwell (ISBN 0802143911) 1986: Acquires a controlling stake in Canada’s Husky Energy. That investment plus his other assets earn him a spot on Forbes’ first ranking of the world’s billionaires a year later. “My life has been filled with challenges. But I must say, fortune has indeed bestowed many opportunities.”
  • 1990: Less than a year after the bloody Tiananmen Square incident in Beijing, Shanghai’s mayor asked Li to invest in its port operations, a congested environment where ships had to wait up to seven days at sea before gaining dock access.
  • 1999: Jackpot! Hutchinson does its biggest deal ever: selling its stake in telecom Orange Plc. to German Mannesmann for nearly $15 billion.

Li Ka-shing Biography

  • 2006: Pledges to bequeath one-third of his wealth to the Li Ka Shing Foundation to support education and health care around the world. “We all know the importance of identifying the right capital investment. Social capital is the key”
  • 'The New Elite' by Jim Taylor, Doug Harrison (ISBN 0814400485) 2007: Goes with his gut and invests in Facebook within five minutes of hearing the pitch for the fledging business. The social network scores a big valuation ($15 billion) despite scant revenue. “A person investing in technology will feel younger.”
  • 2010 to 2014: Li trims some Chinese and Hong Kong investments and looks to Europe instead. In all, his companies spend more than $28 billion buying assets on that continent, including a water company, utility firms, and two mobile phone operators. “Businesspeople in general shouldn’t have an overly narrow view of their industry.”
  • 2015: Perceiving that more of his attention is directed overseas, the government-controlled media questions his loyalty to greater China. Li issues a three-page response denying the allegations.

Through his publicly listed Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong holdings, Li ka-shing controls more than $60 billion worth of assets in telecommunications, real estate, infrastructure, ports, retailing and manufacturing, energy, and technology.

Recommended Reading

Posted in Business and Strategy

Confucius on Types of Men

Confucius on Types of Men

Confucius distinguishes four types or levels of man:

  1. The highest embraces the saints, those who possess knowledge from birth. Confucius never saw a saint but he has no douht that they existed in antiquity.
  2. The second level comprises those who must acquire knowledge by learning; they can become “superior men.”
  3. The men of the third level find it hard to learn, but they do not let this discourage them.
  4. Those of the fourth level find it hard and make no effort.

The two middle types are on the way; they progress though they may fail. Confucius writes, “Only the highest wise men and the lowest fools are unchangeable.”

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

The Death of Confucius

The Death of Confucius

From age 56 to 68, the Chinese philosopher Confucius wandered from state to state hoping that somewhere he could put his political doctrine into practice. During these years he never lost confidence in his cailling as political mentor of the Empire.

At age 57, when he returned to his native state finally, he lamented in a poem that, “men are without insight, quickly the years pass.” He said, despite all his wanderings through nine provinces there was still no goal in sight for him.

Confucius spent his last years peacefully in Lu. He accepted no government position. He seems to have undergone a profound change. A hermit once said of Confucius: “Is that not the man who knows that striving is without hope and yet goes on?” He studied the I Ching, or Book of Changes, so rich in secrets and completed his systematic groundwork for a new mode of education by committing traditions to writing and by instructing a group of young men.

One morning Confucius felt the approach of death. He walked about the courtyard, humming the words: “The great mountain must collapse, the mighty beam must break, and the wise man wither like a plant.”

When an alarmed pupil spoke to him, he said: “No wise ruler arises, and no one in the Empire wishes to make me his teacher. The hour of my death has come.” He lay down and died eight days later at age 73.

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Confucius on Ages of Life

Confucius on Ages of Life

Confucius says of the ages of life:

In youth when the vital forces are not yet developed, guard against sensuality in manhood, when the vital forces have attained their full strength, against quarrelsomeness; in old age, when the forces are on the wane, against avarice.

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Confucius’ Indifference Toward Women

Confucius indifference toward women

Confucius is said to have an indifference toward women. Possibly because the atmosphere around him was distinctly masculine.

Confucius had nothing to say of conduct in matrimony, spoke disparagingly of women, had only contempt for a pair of lovers who committed suicide together, and frequently remarked that nothing is so hard to handle as a woman.

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Confucius on Awareness of Limits and Lao-Tzu

Confucius on Awareness of Limits

The philosophy of Confucius is not a knowledge that regards itself as complete and an underlying feeling that everything can and will be set aright.

Confucius never thought himself in possession of complete knowledge and never thought such knowledge possible. “To represent what you know as knowledge and what you Jo not know as ignorance: that is knowkdge.”

Confucius is aware of the evil in the world. It is rooted in the failure of man. He laments: “That good predispositions are not cultivated, that what men have learned is not effectual, that men know their duty and are not drawn to it, that men have faults and are unable to correct them: these are things that grieve me.”

Sometimes he says he can no longer find a single true man. “It is all over. I have met none able to see his own faults, to look strictly intact. For he does not take the community as an absolute. For him the Encompassing is a background, not a theme to work with; it is the limit and foundation to be co11sidered with awe, not the immediate task.

The essential difference is the difference between Lao-tzu’s direct way to the tao and Confucius’ detour by way of the human order, hence the divergent practical consequences of the same fundamental view.

The tao which Lao-tzu puts before and above everything else is for Confucius the One. But Lao-tzu immerses himself in it, while Confucius lets himself be guided by his awe of the One as he moves among the things of the world. At times Confucius also shows a tendency to shun the world; at the limits he too discloses the notion of acting by inaction and so keeping the world in order. Though the two philosophers look in opposite directions, they stand on the same ground. Their unity has been embodied by great historic figures, not in a philosophy that systematically embraced both sets of teachings, but in the Chinese wisdom of a life illumined by thought.

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

The Extraordinary Yungang Cave Shrines and Buddhist monuments

Yungang Cave Shrines and Buddhist monuments

A stretch of rugged sandstone cliffs along the Wuzhou river valley, not far from the present-day city of Datang, is home to one of the world’s most extraordinary Buddhist monuments. Running for more than half a mile along the river, the cliffs were selected in 460 C.E. by the emperor Wencheng of the Northern Wei dynasty for a network of more than 250 exquisitely decorated Buddhist cave shrines. Horrified by the violent anti-Buddhist policies of his precursor, Wencheng employed tens of thousands of artisans to hew the grottoes from the solid rock as a monumental act of faithfulness.

Many of the artists who created the Yungang grottoes came promptly from working on the similar Buddhist caves in the far west of China, at the Silk Road site of Mogao, where they worked in styles derived from Central Asia and India, the homeland of Buddhism. These influences can be seen at Yungang, representing the peak of early Chinese Buddhist art, and the start of a intermediary phase to more purely Chinese styles. Imperial patronage ended in 494 CE when the Northern Wei decamped to Luoyang, hundreds of miles to the south, and the artists and sculptors of Yungang soon left to work on a new cave complex at Longmen, near the new capital. From then on, Yungang was left to the monks, pilgrims and, today, tourists.

Painted Grottoes of Yungang Cave Shrines These intricately sculpted and painted grottoes contain more than 50,000 statues and reliefs, from immense fierce Buddhist guardians to miniature Buddhas seated serenely in gracefully ornamented niches, framed by lotus petals, flames and countless spiritual beings. Some of the niches are carved to bear a resemblance to the elaborate, long-decayed wooden facades that once formed the entrance to the grottoes. Whereas some facades were replaced in later centuries, most of the grottoes are now open to the elements of nature. Despite this, and the present-day threat from sandstorms caused by deforestation, many of the figures retain their brilliant, vibrant colors after 1,500 years.

Buddha statues in the grottoes of Yungang, carved in their thousands in the 5th and 6th centuries CE as a great act of piety. Much of the stone surrounding these statues has weathered away, leaving them exposed.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

The Undiscovered Charms of Xi’an, China

Sunset walk around City Wall in Xi'an, China

Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province, is a beautiful city located in the middle of China with a civilization of long standing. It is treated as a capital of ancient China for over 1,000 years and has witnessed the replacement of 13 dynasties.

You will find a great number of historic interests all around the city when come to Xi’an for a tour.

Xi’an is far away from the sea and is situated on the loess plateau, the north of the Qinling Mountains, which results in the lack of precipitation and a dry climate. This climate and location, however, do form a fantastic place to live: no typhoon, no earthquake, no sandstorm and flood. In November, the city always becomes cold and you may take some overcoat in case of the chilly and dry air outside, but you don’t have to worry about the temperature inside for we have central heating system in houses.

There are so many interests in the downtown: the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, the City Wall, Datang Furong Garden, and Huaqing Hot Spring, etc.

Terra Cota Warriors in Xi'an, China

The scenery in the suburbs of this city is fascinating as well, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, the wildlife in Qinling Mountains, the Temple of Dharma Gate, and the tomb of emperors. The Huashan Mountain is also a good natural landscape to go sightseeing though it is somewhat dangerous and you need to be cautious. It is not so easy to list and introduce them all, I hope you will come to Xi’an someday and feel the thickness of their history yourself.

Xi’an has good transport facilities, you can go to every destination by taking bus or subway, but the taxi in Xi’an is quite rare and strange, it is usual to wait for more than half an hour just for taking a taxi. Therefore, I recommend that preparing the public transportation for the historic interests before you come to Xi’an.

As for the hotel, my advice is it will be very convenient to go sightseeing if you choose to live in a hotel around the City Wall. You can go for a walk at the City Wall at night, appreciate the most magnificent sunset, and enjoy the delicious snacks at the night market in downtown.

Pita Bread Soaked in Lamb Soup in Xi'an, China

Not only is Xi’an famous for its long history and majestic interests, but the delicious native snacks as well. Pita Bread Soaked in Lamb Soup, cold noodle is famous all over this country and attracts a great many of tourists to Xi’an.

There is a famous snack street in Xi’an called “Huimin Street” just in the center of the city, Most of the native snacks are available at there and it is really a paradise for some Chowhound.

Xi’an is beautiful on spring and autumn, the flowers blossom on spring and the leaves gradually fall on autumn, at that time Xi’an is filled with vivid color, I am sure you will love it.

Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

The Sacred Mountain of Taishan (Mount Tai) in Shandon, China

The Sacred Mountain of Taishan

Standing approximately to the north, south, east and west of China’s northern plains, four sacred mountains mark out the ancient heartland of the Middle Kingdom. But Chinese ritual also acknowledges a fifth direction—the cosmic “centre”—in addition to the usual four, so there are not merely four sacred peaks but five. The fifth and central mountain is Mount Tai or Taishan, the “Great Mountain”. It has been China’s holiest mountain and a pilgrimage site for as long as 3,000 years.

Mountains are revered in China as places of special power, the abodes of the Blessed Immortals and symbols of stability, strength, power and eternity. Where someone in the West might describe something as being “steady as a rock”, the Chinese will say it is as “steady as Mount Tai”. Rulers and ordinary people alike have come to worship at this peak. Over the centuries some 72 emperors made the pilgrimage to Mount Tai, where they worshipped the gods and prayed for prosperity at the imperial Dai Miao Temple at its foot. Now surrounded by the city of Tai’an, the temple was built to resemble an imperial palace and covers nearly 300,000 square feet.

Azure Cloud Temple, The Sacred Mountain of Taishan There are many other shrines along the pilgrim paths that snake from Tai’an up the mountain’s slopes, such as the Divine Rock Temple, known for the many statues in its Thousand Buddha Hall. But auspicious red streamers and countless other small offerings bear witness to the holiness of the entire mountainside. Not only are its temples, shrines and inscribed memorial tablets considered significant, but also natural features such as a 2,200-year-old tree and the Bridge of the Immortals, a cluster of boulders that forms precarious looking stepping stones across a vertiginous ravine.

One of the world’s longest flights of steps—around 7,000 of them—leads to the mountain’s highest temple, known as the Azure Cloud Temple. The views from the top are breathtaking. Here, on the peak of Mount Tai, it is easy to imagine—as thousands of Chinese pilgrims have believed before you—that you have reached the abode of the Jade Emperor, the ruler of heaven itself.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

The Stunning Ancient Gardens Of China’s Suzhou

Master of Nets Garden, Suzhou, China

“A very great and noble city. … It has 1,600 stone bridges under which a galley may pass.”
— Venetian Merchant Traveler Marco Polo, on Suzhou

Suzhou, nicknamed “Venice of the East,” hides many striking gardens in the midst of its streets and canals. Suzhou is a ancient gem, filled with canals, bridges, and its famous gardens. The hub of silk production in China, Suzhou was for centuries a trendy residence for scholars, officials, and merchants. Eager to fill their leisure hours with beauty, they built private gardens in which to escape from the hurly-burly of city life.

With a history of more than 2,500 years, the Suzhou gardens were brought into existence by matching buildings, rockeries, watercourses, and vegetation, transcending reality to ideality. A large number of the Ming and Qing Dynasties gardens have survived to the contemporary days and are spread all over the city of Suzhou. UNESCO has inscribed nine of them on the World Heritage List during recent years.

Humble Administrator's Garden, Gardens of Suzhou There were once 200 private gardens in the city, each planned as a harmonious combination of the elements. Rocks, ponds, trees, and pavilions were placed scrupulously so that the view was picture perfect, wherever one sat. Fewer than half the gardens endure today, but the largest of Suzhou’s gardens open to the public, the Humble Administrator’s Garden, dates from the Ming dynasty. The garden was named after a verse by Pan Yue’s Idler’s Prose, “I enjoy a carefree life by planting trees and building my own house…I irrigate my garden and grow vegetables for me to eat…such a life suits a retired official like me well.” It radiates with bamboo and bonsai, clear, chattering streams, meticulously molded rock pools, and pavilions with inverted roofs. More than half of the garden is filled with water, and intricately latticed walkways let erstwhile scholars to marvel at the landscapes even in rain and snow. Also worth visiting are the craftily designed Lingering Garden, the long walkway of which is adorned with calligraphy, and the Blue Wave Pavilion, an eleventh-century retreat featuring glorious, mature trees.

The Garden of the Master of Nets blends vertical with horizontal, water with land, and yin with yang. This specific garden masterfully uses windows, walls, ponds, and plants to fashion a apparently widespread oasis on a small plot of land in town.

Posted in Travels and Journeys