Back in 2013, as Alibaba grew increasingly frustrated with the listing rules of Hong Kong — the company's first choice to host an initial public offering — its vice-chairman Joe Tsai issued a warning.

"The question Hong Kong must address is whether it is ready to look forward as the rest of the world passes it by," he wrote in a blog post.

But Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) refused to budge, insisting that Alibaba's dual-class share structure put ordinary investors at a disadvantage.

Alibaba looks to raise billions in Hong Kong listing


And so