Hong Kong tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung died in Beijing on Saturday at the age of 83. He was a great contributor to the nation's sporting development, and had participated in the drafting of the Hong Kong Basic Law.
Fok, vice-chairman of National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), passed away at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital at about 7 pm, after suffering a long battle with cancer.
Henry Fok Ying-tung [China Daily]
He was diagnosed with the illness in 2003, and was visited in hospital by State leaders including President Hu Jintao and Vice-president Zeng Qinghong.
"His death is a great loss for the nation as well as for Hong Kong," Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang was quoted as saying by Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po yesterday.
"I am very sorry to hear the news, and give my condolences to Fok's family on behalf of the Hong Kong government."
A native of Panyu in South China's Guangdong Province, Fok was born to a family of fishermen in May 1923. His father died when he was 7.
Fok was forced to quit Queen's College in Causeway Bay, a top high school in Hong Kong, when the Japanese army invaded the territory in 1941.
To make ends meet, Fok worked as a labourer at the airport and shovelled coal onto ferries.
After World War II, Fok became a successful businessman, with his empire covering restaurants, real estate, hotels and oil. To date, his wealth is estimated at more than HK$27.3 billion (US$3.5 billion).
Fok, known as the "patriotic capitalist," maintained a close relationship with the Chinese mainland in business and politics.
The tycoon sent aid to the Chinese mainland despite a US-led embargo during the Korean War (1950-53), the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ta Kung Pao reported.
He was among the first batch of Hong Kong entrepreneurs to do business on the mainland.
In 1983, he opened the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, the first five-star hotel on the mainland.
A fan of football, tennis and golf, Fok contributed significantly to the revival of the nation's sport.
He held the position of president of the Hong Kong Football Association several times from the 1960s.
He donated more than HK$400 million (US$51.4 million) to sporting projects following the establishment of the Fok Ying-tung Foundation in 1984, according to the Ta Kung Po.
After Beijing's successful bid for the 2008 Olympics, he donated 200 million yuan (US$25 million) for the construction of the Games venues.