Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing has defended his business strategy against criticism in China's state media accusing him of selling off his Chinese investments.

In an unusual move, Li released a statement responding to a barrage of criticism in recent weeks over the restructuring of his global business empire to focus more on Europe and less on China.

Commentaries in state media chastised Li this month for being immoral and ungrateful for abandoning China as its economy slows.

He said he wanted to be "vigilant not to let these unfounded allegations escalate to cause investors' concerns."

The 87-year-old tycoon has long been Asia's richest person, although he recently fell to second place with a fortune of $25 billion, according to Forbes.