NEW YORK ( Forbes) -- For the 25th anniversary issue of the Forbes Billionaires List, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview one of the world's greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists of our time, Li Ka-shing. His first interview with a Western media in nearly five years took place atop his headquarters in Hong Kong. (Please click here for the full profile.) The conversation, mostly in Mandarin Chinese, covered everything from his thoughts on Europe to Hong Kong's rising costs and advice for young entrepreneurs. Translated excerpts follow. Q. What's ahead for the global economy? A. I'm definitely concerned about the present state of the global economy. Both the U.S. and Europe are dealing with economic and political issues. Inevitably, every Western country and even some countries in the East are democracies with their leaders elected by popular vote. This is what our world values. Any political party that aspires to power as president or prime minister must take into account the will of the people, which means finding the means to provide excellent welfare benefits and shortened working hours. This results in a larger and larger deficit. This will make recovery more difficult and extend the timeframe for a full economic recovery. This will take a long time. Asia is faring better, but it will also be affected. The coming few years won't be easy, with GDP growth slowing. Yet our group provides products and services for the masses, not luxury products.
By Russell Flannery , Forbes Staff
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