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French President Awards Legion of Honor to Chinese Millionaire

French President Jacques Chirac awarded the Legion of Honor to Chinese millionaire Li Ka-shing on Jan. 20 for his contribution to organizing the French year in China, a spokesman of Chirac's office said Tuesday.

Li Ka-shing, 76, whose Watson filiale recently carried out a friendly purchase of France's Marionnaud perfume retailer in a deal worth 900 million euros (about US$1.17 billion), is the symbol of the "success story" of Hong Kong style.

Having been arrived in Hong Kong at the age of 12, Li began his career as an ambulant merchant and has built up the world's biggest company in the cosmetic sector -- the Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa. He is the richest man in Asia and the 19th richest in the world with an estimated asset of US$12.4 billion, according to the American Forbes magazine.

The Legion of Honor was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte to recognize eminent service to the French republic.

According to the spokesman, the honor was awarded during a private ceremony at Chirac's Elysee palace.

(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2005)

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