Asia’s richest businessman, Li Ka-shing, is having trouble sleeping at night as he worries about income inequality in China.
Li, whose empire embraces gas and power networks as well as 3 Mobile in the UK, told students at China’s Shantou university that: “Widening inequality in wealth and opportunities, if left unaddressed, could fast become ‘the new normal’.”
The octogenarian, rated as the 15th-wealthiest person in the world by Forbes at $35 billion (£20 billion), joked: “Recently, alarmed by the fervent discussions on the web about my sleeplessness, my friends recommended a ton of effective cures for insomnia. I am very touched by their thoughtfulness.”
Li, who also owns Superdrug, added: “I am 85 years old, going on 86. I feel blessed to have seen more in life than I could remember, and happy to remember more than I have seen; so why am I sleepless in Hong Kong?”
He was speaking amid demonstrations over how Hong Kong elects its next leader in 2017.
He said: “The howl of rage from polarisation and the crippling cost of welfare dependence is a toxic cocktail commingled to stall growth and foster discontent.
"What is most unsettling for me is that trust – the bedrock of an enlightened society – is crumbling before our eyes.”