Asia's richest man 'can't sleep' due to wealth gap

Li Ka-shing, chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.
Jerome Favre | Bloomberg | Getty Images

What keeps Li Ka-shing awake at night? Turns out, the wealth gap.

In a downbeat commencement speech at Shantou University, Li—who is reported to be the richest man in Asia with more than $28 billion—said widening inequality and declining public trust in China are two issues that keep him awake at night.

The speech, called "Sleepless in Hong Kong" and reported by the South China Morning Post and others, called special attention to the growing gap between the rich and the rest.

He said the widening inequality in wealth and opportunities, if left unaddressed, could fast become "the new normal."

"The howl of rage from polarization and the crippling cost of welfare dependence is a toxic cocktail commingled to stall growth and foster discontent," he is quoted as saying.

He called for the Chinese government to introduce wealth redistribution policies that struck the right balance between promoting equality and helping growth.

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—By CNBC's Robert Frank