CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
ECONOMY & FINANCE
- US-China trade war would affect one in five Hong Kong jobs, finance secretary says (SCMP, April 1)
- Hotel operators push for law against Airbnb hosts and users in Hong Kong, citing 'matter of
principle' (SCMP, April 4)
- US-China trade row a potential blow to the IPO ambitions of Hong Kong and Chinese markets (SCMP, April 4)
- Hong Kong express rail will not run until proven safe after derailment (SCMP, April 5)
- How will Hong Kong be affected by Donald Trump's threat of extra US$100 billion in punitive tariffs? (SCMP, April 7)
- Carrie Lam says city has a lot to gain but support needed from Beijing to realise integration plans (SCMP, April 10)
- No repairs needed for island part of mega bridge, Hong Kong highways chief says amid safety row (SCMP, April 10)
- Scale of Hong Kong-China stock connect schemes to be expanded (SCMP, April 12)
- Hong Kong is again Asia's most expensive city for business travellers, edging out Tokyo (SCMP, April 17)
- Hong Kong Monetary Authority bought HK$51 billion during 13 interventions to stabilise currency against US dollar (SCMP, April 19)
- Hong Kong businesses push back against 'unfair' proposal allowing customers to call off pricey deals (SCMP, April 20)
- Hong Kong rule of law, diverse economy keys to 'Greater Bay Area' success, lawmakers say (SCMP, April 22)
- Hong Kong will defend its interests amid US-China trade war, minister vows (SCMP, April 26)
- Laura Cha checks in as Hong Kong exchange's first woman chief in its 127-year history (SCMP, April 27)
- Officials call for 'rational discussions' on Hong Kong housing crisis in wake of golf course protest (SCMP, April 29)
- 41 lawmakers echo Beijing's sharp rebuke of legal scholar Benny Tai's Hong Kong independence comments (SCMP, April 1)
- Can Benny Tai be prosecuted for independence remarks under Hong Kong law? 'No', experts say (SCMP, April 3)
- Calling for an end to communist rule in China 'is a crime against Hong Kong' (SCMP, April 7)
- Hong Kong is 'only place in the world without national security law', liaison office chief says (SCMP, April 15)
- No timetable on national security law, Hong Kong leader insists, but officials working to create
'favourable conditions' (SCMP, April 17)
- Campaigning for independence is not a basic right in Hong Kong, Qiao Xiaoyang says (SCMP, April 20)
- Nothing hardline about urging respect for China's socialist system, says adviser to Hong Kong
leader after Qiao Xiaoyang's comments (SCMP, April 22)
- Top Beijing official urges lawmakers to embrace patriotism and love for city during first visit to legislature since taking office (SCMP, April 24)
- Phone-snatching lawmaker Ted Hui suspended by Democratic Party and faces pressure to resign (SCMP, April 27)
- Hong Kong justice chief tight-lipped on whether she discussed Article 23 with Beijing officials (SCMP, April 30)
- British delegation in Hong Kong to study legal reasons behind Agnes Chow's by-election ban (SCMP, April 9)
- Duterte apologises to Hong Kong victims of Manila hostage tragedy (SCMP, April 13)
- British report warns Beijing is increasing pressure on Hong Kong's basic rights and freedoms (SCMP, April 18)
- Stay out of Hong Kong's affairs, government warns, after US report highlights 'chilling effect on
political protest' in city (SCMP, April 21)
- EU concerned over 'gradual erosion' of Hong Kong's autonomy (SCMP, April 25)
LEGAL AFFAIRS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
- Hong Kong drone owners may have to pass tests and register with authorities (SCMP, April 3)
- Help detained bookseller and improve domestic workers' rights, Hong Kong told in submission to UN (SCMP, April 10)
- Public fears pressure from Beijing is leading to end of press freedom in Hong Kong (SCMP, April 12)
- Beijing scholar says Hong Kong judges' 'different understanding' of Basic Law is behind 'great
disparity' in court cases (SCMP, April 22)
- 5,000 more hospital beds and better operating facilities by 2026, Hong Kong No 2 official says (SCMP, April 1)
- Hong Kong beauty salon blunders spark move to regulate stem cell treatment and therapies (SCMP, April 4)
- Largest ever Hong Kong mental health survey to involve at least 15,000 people, with focus on young (SCMP, April 13)
- Almost 20 spreads sold in Hong Kong 'could up your risk of cancer' (SCMP, April 17)
- It's a bit late now, say Hong Kong suppliers as majority of recalled US eggs have probably been eaten (SCMP, April 19)
- Food delivery companies try to help Hong Kong kick its 25 million-a-day plastic utensil habit (SCMP, April 4)
- Hongkongers want eco-lodges and adventure activities, but no big changes for country parks (SCMP, April 13)
- Generate income by generating power – Hong Kong homes close to selling solar power under
new 'feed-in tariff' scheme (SCMP, April 24)
CULTURE AND EDUCATION
- Council to add workplace assessment to courses in change to vocational education (SCMP, April 6)
- Help Hong Kong universities set up branches in 'Greater Bay Area', Lam urges country's education chief (SCMP, April 15)
- Hong Kong government launches HK$48 million school book funding programme (SCMP, April 18)
- Macau meeting hints at new Hong Kong role for Chinese vice-premier Han Zheng (SCMP, April 25)
Economy + Finance
US-China trade war would affect one in five Hong Kong jobs, finance secretary says (SCMP, April 1): A trade war between the US and China would affect one in five Hong Kong jobs, the city's financial secretary Paul Chan warned. Chan expressed worry over rising American protectionism and wrote on his official blog: "Free trade is an important foundation of our success. The total value of traded goods and services was about 375 per cent of our gross domestic product. Trading and logistics is a pillar industry of Hong Kong, contributing to some 22 per cent of GDP and employing some 730,000 people. Roughly one-fifth of our labour force work in the sector. A trade war would yield "no winner."
Hotel operators push for law against Airbnb hosts and users in Hong Kong, citing 'matter of principle' (SCMP, April 4): Almost all of Hong Kong's hotel operators have banded together to demand the government push through a law that would punish users – hosts and guests – of Airbnb, and allow authorities to raid flats suspected of being unlicensed holiday rentals. The Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, which represents 90 per cent of businesses in the industry, said while Airbnb was not a direct competitor, the home-sharing service was "simply illegal" and must be opposed "as a matter of principle". Around 5,000 properties in the city – most of which are residential flats – were listed as temporary lodging on Airbnb last year.
US-China trade row a potential blow to the IPO ambitions of Hong Kong and Chinese markets (SCMP, April 4): An escalating US-China trade dispute could be bad news for the initial public share offering ambitions of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese exchanges as companies would be less willing to consider a listing if the markets became volatile, according to accounting and consultancy firm Deloitte. It added that US tax reform plans and interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve could spur a movement of capital away from Asia, another risk factor for markets. In the first quarter of this year, Hong Kong saw 64 IPOs raising a total of HK$24.4 billion (US$3.1 billion), up 64 per cent and 84 per cent respectively from the same period a year earlier, Deloitte said.
Hong Kong express rail will not run until proven safe after derailment (SCMP, April 5): Hong Kong officials will not allow cross-border high-speed train services to go ahead until experts and the MTR Corporation could prove the operation "was safe" in the wake of a derailment on April 3 as testing of trains was suspended. An investigation into the incident of how some wheels on an express train undergoing testing had "shifted out of position" was ongoing. The incident was a major setback for the HK$84.4 billion (US$10.7 billion) infrastructure project. The Transport and Housing Bureau said safety was the "top priority in any railway operations".
How will Hong Kong be affected by Donald Trump's threat of extra US$100 billion in punitive tariffs? (SCMP, April 7): Hong Kong could be indirectly affected by a further US$100 billion tariffs on Chinese imports, the city's commerce minister Edward Yau has said. He identified three areas where Hong Kong could be hit by the new proposals: entrepot trade, investment in Chinese-made products and the financial market. In terms of entrepot trade, he said Hong Kong re-exported about HK$60 billion (US$7.64 billion) worth of products last year that might come under the new tariff. It amounts to about 20 per cent of the total value of products China exported to the US via Hong Kong. Yau believed the tariff could also affect Hongkongers' investment in relevant products manufactured on the mainland. Hong Kong's financial market could also be affected, as Yau described China and the US as the city's "closest trading partners". The Hong Kong government would continue to communicate with chambers of commerce in its own city and the US, he added.
Carrie Lam says city has a lot to gain but support needed from Beijing to realise integration plans (SCMP, April 10): Hong Kong's finance and research industries have much to gain from deeper integration with mainland China's economy and there is no need for the city to compete with manufacturing hubs like Dongguan and Shenzhen. That was the assessment of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a "brainstorming" panel discussion on plans for the Greater Bay Area – an economic development plan to meld the city with Guangdong and Macau – at the Boao Forum for Asia. "In fact, if we really want to push the Greater Bay Area ahead, and if we want to see a breakthrough, we definitely need big support from the central government," she said. Guangdong governor Ma Xingrui said Guangdong was happy to adapt its rules to make it easier for Hong Kong people, especially young people, to live and work on the mainland.
No repairs needed for island part of mega bridge, Hong Kong highways chief says amid safety row (SCMP, April 10): The sea wall of an artificial island that makes up part of the cross-sea bridge infrastructure linking Hong Kong to Zhuhai and Macau is structurally sound and safe, the Hong Kong government confirmed after a site review, quashing concerns that it was drifting apart. Director of Highways Daniel Chung stressed that the structure completed last year had not deviated from its final design, and therefore no repairs were needed. The city has so far committed to contributing about HK$10.7 billion (US$1.36 billion), or 43 per cent, of the main bridge's construction cost.
Scale of Hong Kong-China stock connect schemes to be expanded (SCMP, April 12): China will quadruple the daily quota on the Hong Kong-Shanghai and Hong Kong-Shenzhen stock link schemes from May 1, a move that could increase integration of its onshore and offshore stock market trading, Yi Gang, Governor of the People's Bank of China, said. Yi announced that the daily southbound quota would be increased to 42 billion yuan (US$6.67 billion) from the current 10.5 billion yuan. The daily northbound quota will be increased to 52 billion yuan from the current 13 billion yuan.
Hong Kong is again Asia's most expensive city for business travellers, edging out Tokyo (SCMP, April 17): Hong Kong regained the top spot last year as Asia's most expensive city for business travellers, who faced daily expenses of HK$3,971 (US$506) on accommodation, transport, meals and incidentals. But Asia as a whole remained relatively cheap for business travel as Hong Kong was only
the 29th most expensive location globally. New York was costliest at HK$6,200 (US$790) a day. ECA International has been conducting its daily rates survey annually to measure business travel costs.
Hong Kong Monetary Authority bought HK$51 billion during 13 interventions to stabilise currency against US dollar (SCMP, April 19): The Hong Kong Monetary Authority HKMA, the city's de facto central bank, since April 12, has bought HK$51 billion of its own currency by selling US$6.54 billion worth of US dollars to defend the Hong Kong dollar, a move that its deputy chief executive Howard Lee said was in accordance with the linked exchange rate system. HKMA also pointed to the absence of the large-scale shorting of the Hong Kong dollar. "We saw fund inflows of HK$1 trillion into Hong Kong's banking system in the past few years, and this means by comparison the outflows remain a small proportion," he added.
Hong Kong businesses push back against 'unfair' proposal allowing customers to call off pricey deals (SCMP, April 20): Industry leaders have pushed back against an "unfair" proposal for a mandatory seven-day "cooling-off period" to allow Hong Kong shoppers signing up for pricey long- term contracts to call off their purchases unconditionally. Claiming it would penalise the entire industry – not just those using high-pressure sales tactics – as well as bringing financial instability to businesses, bosses vowed to challenge the government's plan. The Consumer Council proposed the cooling-off period for five types of contract, including those signed with beauty salons, fitness centres and timeshare firms. Commerce minister Edward Yau said the government would submit a bill to the Legislative Council before July 2020.
Hong Kong rule of law, diverse economy keys to 'Greater Bay Area' success, lawmakers say (SCMP, April 22): Hong Kong must uphold its rule of law and diversify its economy to make Beijing's "Greater Bay Area" project a success, according to local lawmakers on a five-city tour of mainland China. The group, comprising 23 pro-establishment and nine pan-democratic lawmakers, is the largest delegation of city legislators to visit the mainland since 2014. They were accompanied by four Hong Kong ministers. Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said the visits reaffirmed to him the importance of safeguarding Hong Kong's strengths amid regional competition. "All cities are seeking to attract talent to make themselves innovative," Wu said. "But the municipal officials agreed that Hong Kong's strengths [lie in its level] of internationalisation, rule of law, and free flow of information."
Hong Kong will defend its interests amid US-China trade war, minister vows (SCMP, April 26): Hong Kong's trade minister Edward Yau has vowed that the city will continue to be a free and open place to do business. Speaking on the sidelines of an official trip to Jakarta, Edward Yau, the city's secretary for commerce and economic development, said: "We will continue to be a voice of the multilateral rule-based free trade system … and a valued partner of all participants in the system, including the US. This does not mean that we will be serving US interests – but the interests of everyone who does business with Hong Kong. When we speak up we are also protecting Hong Kong's business partners. So whether Hong Kong will be a victim might be determined by its circumstances, but Hong Kong will not be voiceless." Yau was part of Chief Executive Carrie Lam's delegation for her first official visit to the Indonesian capital. The two-day trip was aimed at strengthening ties between both economies.
Laura Cha checks in as Hong Kong exchange's first woman chief in its 127-year history (SCMP, April 27): Laura Cha was elected unopposed as the first woman to chair Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX), the operator of the stock market, in the bourse's 127 years of history. The HKEX and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) are instituting much-needed listing reforms to entice new economy firms, particularly technology and biotech ones from the mainland, while cleaning up irregularities and excesses. Cha has made mapping a three-year strategic plan one of her top priorities in the first 100 days in office, to look at how to enhance the exchange's competitiveness from 2019 to 2021 and fend off competition from other overseas exchanges.
Officials call for 'rational discussions' on Hong Kong housing crisis in wake of golf course protest (SCMP, April 29): Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung and Stanley Wong, chairman of the Task Force on Land Supply called for rational discussions on solutions to the city's housing shortage a day after the debate on an option to build homes on a local golf course descended into violence. The 5-month consultation (kicked off on April 26) listed 18 options to address the city's projected shortfall of at least 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of land for housing and economic development for the next three decades, including the use of part or all of the 170-hectare Fanling golf course for residential purposes.
41 lawmakers echo Beijing's sharp rebuke of legal scholar Benny Tai's Hong Kong independence comments (SCMP, April 1): Almost all of Hong Kong's pro-establishment lawmakers, taking their cue from Beijing, jointly denounced liberal academic Benny Tai for recently saying in Taiwan that Hong Kong could "consider becoming an independent state". The 41 legislators condemned the University of Hong Kong law scholar for remarks they said were against the national constitution and the city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law. Their statement came barely a few hours after state news agency Xinhua slammed Tai for "purposefully and knowingly" challenging the nation's constitution and the "constitutional order" of the "one country, two systems" policy. On his Facebook page, Tai said: "Cultural Revolution-style denouncement could have started against me. It will quickly spread to affect all Hong Kong people. Everyone will find themselves in danger. "It's not only that people cannot express objection, but they also have to be obsequious, or even turn in [those who do not support the authorities]."
Can Benny Tai be prosecuted for independence remarks under Hong Kong law? 'No', experts say (SCMP, April 3): The row over controversial academic Benny Tai's independence remarks intensified as Beijing mouthpiece People's Daily demanded the Hong Kong government take legal action against him under the city's existing criminal law, even if it has yet to adopt national security legislation against sedition. Legal experts rejected the idea of prosecuting him under the Crimes Ordinance. Former director of public prosecutions Grenville Cross told the Post that Tai's comments did not constitute criminal liability. "Tai has not actually advocated independence in his Taiwan remarks," Cross said. "He simply suggested it as one of several possibilities if certain hypothetical events were to happen. This falls short of being criminal under either the existing sedition law or the 2003 [national security law] proposals." Even if one made public statements advocating independence, no law would be broken if it was done peacefully, Cross added, and prosecuting anyone for sedition would require proof of inciting violence, promoting hatred and stirring up ill will.
Calling for an end to communist rule in China 'is a crime against Hong Kong' (SCMP, April 7): Any Hongkonger who opposes the Communist Party's leadership of China is committing a crime against the city and its mode of government, Beijing's top man in Hong Kong declared. Wang Zhimin, director of the central government's liaison office in the city, said Hong Kong needs to encourage its residents to respect and understand the Chinese constitution, as it is the "root and foundation" of its future. Wang said: " We can say that without our motherland, led by the Chinese Communist Party ...there is no 'one country, two systems', and there is no Hong Kong special administrative region. If you oppose this system, you are overturning our one country, two systems. This is a crime committed against Hong Kong people. It will not bring blessings to Hong Kong, but calamity."
Hong Kong is 'only place in the world without national security law', liaison office chief says (SCMP, April 15): It is Hong Kong's responsibility to safeguard national security, two mainland Chinese officials in the city have said as they hit out at local activists for "colluding with external forces" and challenging China's sovereignty. The remarks from the central government's liaison office director Wang Zhimin and Yang Yirui, deputy commissioner of Beijing's foreign ministry office in Hong Kong, came at a high-powered symposium. Their words were regarded by pro-Beijing politicians as a call for the city's government to enact the controversial national security legislation before its current term ends in 2022. At the same event, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Secretary for Security John Lee were non-committal over any timetable for the legislation.
No timetable on national security law, Hong Kong leader insists, but officials working to create 'favourable conditions' (SCMP, April 17): Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam said the city was still not ready for national security legislation, even though Beijing officials have recently been ramping up reminders that laws against offences such as treason and sedition are overdue to tackle independence advocacy. "But we do not have a timetable for enacting the legislation yet. It is our duty to do this work, but the time is not yet right," Lam said. She said her administration had been working hard to create "favourable conditions" to do so. A peaceful and rational atmosphere in society, as well as confidence in the central and local governments, were needed to create "favourable" conditions for handling such controversial issues, especially those involving the city's relations with Beijing, she said.
Campaigning for independence is not a basic right in Hong Kong, Qiao Xiaoyang says (SCMP, April 20): Advocating independence for Hong Kong has nothing to do with the right to free expression and is unconstitutional, a Beijing expert visiting the city to "promote and popularise" the Chinese constitution said. Qiao Xiaoyang, retired chairman of the national legislature's law committee, made
clear to 200 top officials at a closed-door seminar that he did not consider pro-independence calls to be part of freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right enshrined in the city's mini-constitution. Qiao also said that while the central government would maintain a capitalist system in Hong Kong, it would be unconstitutional to "subvert the socialist system led by the Communist Party", noted Wong Kwok-kin, a member of Lam's Executive Council.
Nothing hardline about urging respect for China's socialist system, says adviser to Hong Kong leader after Qiao Xiaoyang's comments (SCMP, April 22): Ronny Tong, an adviser to Hong Kong's leader, has defended a former Beijing official Qiao Xiaoyang who urged city residents not to cross a legal line by challenging China's socialist system, saying it was not a hardline stance. Qiao said Hong Kong was under China's "unitary system" and that the Chinese constitution encompassed the whole country. The pan-democratic camp expressed worry that Qiao's remarks meant less room for criticism of the Communist Party. Tong, a barrister by trade and an executive councillor, also said the Chinese constitution is by definition applicable to the whole country, including Hong Kong – but said he saw no need for local laws enforcing that. Tong said all aspects concerning Hong Kong in the Chinese constitution, including its political system, core values and people's rights, were already covered by the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution.
Top Beijing official urges lawmakers to embrace patriotism and love for city during first visit to legislature since taking office (SCMP, April 24): Wang Zhimin, Beijing's top man in Hong Kong, used his first visit to the Legislative Council since taking office to push for rational decision-making, "togetherness" and patriotism as core values of the chamber. "We earnestly hope and believe ... love of country and love of Hong Kong, democratic supervision, rational pragmatism and togetherness are the core values of the Hong Kong Legco," he said, adding that he hoped the council would speed up its work for quicker implementation of policies. He also weighed in on a simmering debate over whether those who called for an "end to one-party dictatorship" should be banned from running in elections. He called the slogan a "false proposition", slamming those who used it and yet wanted to be lawmakers – and therefore part of the establishment.
Phone-snatching lawmaker Ted Hui suspended by Democratic Party and faces pressure to resign (SCMP, April 27): The Democratic Party suspended lawmaker Ted Hui and criticised him for "seriously tarnishing the party's reputation" and letting the public down, as pro-establishment lawmakers geared up to consider a motion to unseat him. The opposition legislator snatched a female civil servant's phone at the Legislative Council. He apologised but the city's leader Carrie Lam and even party stalwarts continued to condemn him. Hui was contrite. He sent an open letter to the woman, who had been trying to marshal lawmakers into a meeting to discuss a government bill when the incident happened, saying he had no "defence for my offence to you". The incident also triggered responses on how to take lawmakers to task for improper conduct.
Hong Kong justice chief tight-lipped on whether she discussed Article 23 with Beijing officials (SCMP, April 30): Hong Kong's justice minister did not reveal if she had discussed with state officials the enactment of a controversial national security law as she wrapped up her first duty visit to Beijing. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said the "courtesy" call was mainly to strengthen exchange with legal practitioners across the border and push for Hong Kong to be an international arbitration centre. During her three-day visit, Cheng met Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Officeand Shen Chunyao, chairman of the Basic Law Committee under the country's top legislature, as well as officials from the Ministry of Justice and representatives from arbitration sectors on the mainland.
British delegation in Hong Kong to study legal reasons behind Agnes Chow's by-election ban (SCMP, April 9): The head of a British parliamentary committee on China is in Hong Kong to investigate the legal grounds behind election officials' decision to ban democracy activist Agnes Chow from running in the recent legislative by-election. Richard Graham, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary China Group, also reiterated the British government's stance that independence was not a realistic option for the city. Graham said the delegation, which also met lawmakers, as well as the commerce and economic development chief Edward Yau, hoped to encourage both the government and the legislature to make sure "freedoms are maintained, the rule of law is absolutely solid and the opportunities for Hong Kong people to have a voice through their representatives and being heard by the government continue".
Duterte apologises to Hong Kong victims of Manila hostage tragedy (SCMP, April 13): Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took Hong Kong by complete surprise, making a full public apology for the Manila bus hostage crisis that left nine people dead nearly eight years ago. The outspoken leader upended his predecessor's steadfast refusal to accept the blame for the botched rescue attempt that resulted in the deaths of eight Hongkongers and the rogue policeman who hijacked their tour bus. Duterte, on a three-day visit to Hong Kong, said he hoped his apology would "go a long way to really assuage the feelings of the Chinese government and people". Democratic Party lawmaker James To, who helped the affected families, said the apology, although late, was a positive sign.
British report warns Beijing is increasing pressure on Hong Kong's basic rights and freedoms (SCMP, April 18): The British government has warned of Beijing's increased pressure on basic rights and freedoms in Hong Kong and "more volatile" street demonstrations that have caused clashes between police and protesters. The report described political discourse in the city as being "dominated by questions surrounding the constitutional relationship between [Hong Kong] and mainland China, with pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps highly polarised". Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung called on the central government to exercise self-restraint in the city's affairs, so that Hong Kong could continue to have the confidence of foreign investors.
Stay out of Hong Kong's affairs, government warns, after US report highlights 'chilling effect on political protest' in city (SCMP, April 21): Foreign governments should stay out of Hong Kong's internal affairs the city's government has warned, after a US report raised concerns mainland Chinese authorities had encroached on the city's autonomy. The report on human rights practices, released by the United States Department of State, said the most significant issues concerning Hong Kong were "a chilling effect on political protest and the exercise of free speech" caused by government actions and "central People's Republic of China government's encroachment on the Special Administrative Region's autonomy". The Hong Kong government maintained the city had enjoyed a high degree of autonomy. "Foreign governments should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of [Hong Kong]," the statement said.
EU concerned over 'gradual erosion' of Hong Kong's autonomy (SCMP, April 25): The European Union has voiced concerns over the "gradual erosion" of Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy as it questioned the implementation of the "one country, two systems" policy in its latest report on the city. While the report agreed that Hong Kong's media enjoyed a high level of freedom, it noted that there had been rising concern about "its limits in relation to the sensitive issue of calls for self-determination or independence". The EU report once again called on Hong Kong to kick start electoral reform, saying this would give the government greater legitimacy to tackle the city's social and economic challenges. In response, a spokesman for the Hong Kong government said: "Since the return to the motherland, [Hong Kong] has been exercising a high degree of autonomy and 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong' in strict accordance with the Basic Law. "Foreign institutions should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of [Hong Kong]."
Legal affairs and human rights
Hong Kong drone owners may have to pass tests and register with authorities (SCMP, April 3): Owners of drones may have to register with the authorities, take training and pass tests, and meet insurance requirements under proposals Hong Kong officials are mulling as they seek to regulate the remote-controlled flying devices. The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) on April 3 launched a three-month public consultation exercise to get feedback on recommendations in a consultancy study conducted last year. The department cited calls for a fundamental review of existing laws, "which are considered rudimentary and unable to cope with technological advancements of drones". The consultants also recommended drawing an official map to specify no-fly zones for drones.
Help detained bookseller and improve domestic workers' rights, Hong Kong told in submission to UN (SCMP, April 10): Hong Kong's rule of law and human rights conditions were thrown under the international spotlight as dozens of civil society organisations in the city endorsed a landmark submission to the UN. The report lists more than 100 recommendations for the Hong Kong government, ranging over topics such as political freedoms, judicial independence and the treatment of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers. It has been handed to the international body's Human Rights Council. The report, submitted to the UN on March 29, also remarks on the removal of several elected lawmakers from the city's Legislative Council, and on moves to keep certain candidates off the ballot altogether. The report concluded that there had been little democratic progress in the previous five years.
Public fears pressure from Beijing is leading to end of press freedom in Hong Kong (SCMP, April 12): Pressure from Beijing is a major contributing factor in public confidence in the freedom of Hong Kong press dropping to an all-time low, an annual survey has revealed. The Press Freedom Index, which measures public feeling on the subject, dropped 0.9 of a point to 47.1 out of 100, its lowest level since the survey started in 2013. Hong Kong's journalists, who were polled separately, were slightly more optimistic compared with last year, their index rising 0.9 to 40.3. This was put down to a number of factors, including the reduction of violence against journalists. However, the Hong Kong Journalists Association said 70 per cent of those polled believed press freedom was worse compared with a year ago.
Beijing scholar says Hong Kong judges' 'different understanding' of Basic Law is behind 'great disparity' in court cases (SCMP, April 22): A Beijing legal heavyweight has rekindled controversy by suggesting Hong Kong judges have a "different understanding" among themselves of the city's mini- constitution that at times produced "great disparity" in their adjudicated cases. Wang Zhenmin, the legal head of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong as well as a mainland law scholar, defended the national legislature's interpretations of the Basic Law. "As all courts and judges are entitled to interpret the Basic Law [when hearing cases], different judges and courts have different understandings, resulting sometimes in great disparity when trying cases," he added. City lawyers hit back at Wang's remarks, saying he did not properly understand the local legal system.
5,000 more hospital beds and better operating facilities by 2026, Hong Kong No 2 official says (SCMP, April 1): As long waits at Hong Kong's overstretched public hospitals persist, the city's No 2 official assured that 5,000 more beds, a new accident and emergency unit and better operating facilities would be added by 2026. The health care overhaul confirmed by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung would draw upon five funding proposals to upgrade four hospitals and build a new hospital with accident and emergency services in Kai Tak. Cheung urged lawmakers to quickly approve the request, which is to be submitted by July. The projects form part of the government's plan, announced two years ago, to spend HK$200 billion (US$25.4 billion) to build new facilities.
Hong Kong beauty salon blunders spark move to regulate stem cell treatment and therapies (SCMP, April 4): The Hong Kong government moved a step closer to regulating stem cell treatment and other "advanced therapy" products in the city as it launched a two-month consultation following recent cases of serious blunders in beauty salon procedures. In a statement, authorities proposed classifying the services – including gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineering – under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, which would require amending the law. Public concern over experimental medical procedures grew after a woman died following treatment at a clinic under the DR Group in 2012. The owner of the beauty salon and a technician were sentenced to 12 and 10 years in prison respectively last year for manslaughter.
Largest ever Hong Kong mental health survey to involve at least 15,000 people, with focus on young (SCMP, April 13): With a growing number of young Hongkongers seeking treatment for mental health issues, the government will launch its largest ever survey next year to understand the causes and extent of these problems, so that it can formulate better early intervention policies. The poll will have at least 15,000 respondents across three groups: students aged six to 17, young people and school dropouts aged 15 to 24, and the elderly aged 60 or above, with a sample size of 5,000 people in each age group. "Our priority is on children and youngsters ... Early intervention [for mental illness] would prevent such conditions from worsening and causing a greater burden on our health care system," said Wong Yan-lung, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Mental Health and the city's former justice secretary.
Almost 20 spreads sold in Hong Kong 'could up your risk of cancer' (SCMP, April 17): At least 18 margarine products sold in shops in Hong Kong contain glycidol, a substance thought to cause cancer, and at least 16 carry a by-product that can harm kidneys and male fertility, the Consumer Council said. The council's chief executive Gilly Wong said glycidol is "inevitably produced" when vegetable oil is heated during the refining process, and could also be found in a host of processed foods, including biscuits and pancakes. "But, as glycidol is genotoxic and carcinogenic, consumers should reduce intake of food containing the substance as much as possible," Wong said. The council also said half of the 30 products (butter and margarine) it tested had inaccurate nutrition labels. The results had been submitted
to the Centre for Food Safety and the Customs and Excise Department, for them to see if manufacturers had violated the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.
It's a bit late now, say Hong Kong suppliers as majority of recalled US eggs have probably been eaten (SCMP, April 19): More than 2 million imported eggs that may be contaminated with salmonella will have mostly been eaten already, Hong Kong traders said. The eggs, brought in from the United States, were bought in February and March and sold to hotels and restaurants which will have probably already used them, they said. A recall of the eggs was ordered on April 17 after a salmonella scare in the US was linked to Rose Acre Farms' Hyde County farm in North Carolina. The US Federal Drug Administration issued a statement, recalling about 200 million eggs. On April 17, the Hong Kong government's Centre for Food Safety said it had stopped all imports and sales of poultry eggs from Rose Acre Farms.
Food delivery companies try to help Hong Kong kick its 25 million-a-day plastic utensil habit (SCMP, April 4): Food delivery companies in Hong Kong have responded to environmental pressure to cut the plastic waste they generate by offering customers the option to reject disposable cutlery in mobile app orders. Tens of millions of single-use cutlery pieces are estimated to be thrown away in the city daily, and environmental group Green Earth believes the growth in food ordering apps has contributed to this. According to latest government data, a daily average of 154 tonnes of disposable plastic tableware was disposed of in the city's overflowing landfills in 2016.
Hongkongers want eco-lodges and adventure activities, but no big changes for country parks (SCMP, April 13): Treetop climbing, water sports, and more camping sites and eco-friendly accommodation are just a few of the items on Hongkongers' wish lists for the city's "green lung", according to a government-commissioned survey. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department spent HK$2.6 million on the study to review how to boost the educational and recreational appeal of the city's country parks. "Workshop participants generally considered that the existing recreational uses in country parks such as hiking and camping were appropriate," the working paper said. "While they did not have strong views on the preferred options, they expressed that any options proposed should not compromise the conservation objectives [of country parks and special areas]."
Generate income by generating power – Hong Kong homes close to selling solar power under new 'feed-in tariff' scheme (SCMP, April 24): Hongkongers can apply to sell renewable energy into the grid, officials from the larger of the city's two power companies said as they presented details of a new "feed-in tariff" scheme to lawmakers. Lawmakers welcomed the move but urged the Environment Bureau and two power companies to provide more details of how they would remove red tape, while urging officials to issue clear installation and safety guidelines. Under the new scheme, households and businesses that install renewable energy facilities, such as rooftop solar panels or wind systems, would be able to sell the clean electricity to the city's power grid at higher than market rates of HK$3 (US$0.38) to HK$5 per unit of electricity, depending on capacity. Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing said the rates, compared globally, were "extremely appealing".
Culture and Education
Council to add workplace assessment to courses in change to vocational education (SCMP, April 6): The city's largest provider of vocational education is looking to strengthen its collaboration with corporations to enhance the learning and working experience of its students, according to Dr. Roy Chung, the new chairman of the Vocational Training Council. Chung said the council, which has 13 member institutions, was hoping to introduce workplace assessment to more of its courses. "In the future, we are working on having employers as our partners to have students not only work and learn there, but also have them assessed on what they learn," he said. In other words, how the students fare at the workplace could ultimately count towards their grades, Chung added.
Help Hong Kong universities set up branches in 'Greater Bay Area', Lam urges country's education chief (SCMP, April 15): Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has appealed to the country's education chief Chen Baosheng to help local universities set up branches in the "Greater Bay Area" region, which is under a plan to foster social and economic integration between cities in the Pearl River Delta. During the meeting between the two at Government House, Lam expressed hope that Chen's ministry would support the local government and universities in setting up campuses across the border. "If renowned institutions in Hong Kong are able to establish a presence in the bay area, teacher and
student exchanges would be enhanced and the goal to develop an international standard of education based in the area would also be met," Lam said.
Hong Kong government launches HK$48 million school book funding programme (SCMP, April 18): The Hong Kong government will spend HK$48 million (US$6.1 million) per year to subsidise schools in buying new books and organising activities to promote reading. Chief Executive Carrie Lam said starting from the 2018/19 school year, each primary and secondary school would receive HK$40,000 and HK$70,000 respectively to purchase new books. "More importantly, the extra resources can be used … to promote reading culture among students using different sorts of activities," she added. She said that while it was easy to obtain information from the internet, it could not replace the benefits of reading books.
Macau meeting hints at new Hong Kong role for Chinese vice-premier Han Zheng (SCMP, April 25): Chinese vice-premier Han Zheng met a group of top Macau officials in Beijing – the strongest hint yet he has been appointed as the top state leader in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs. Addressing 10 officials from the city, Han, the seventh-ranking member on the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, "fully endorsed" the work of the Macau government. The delegation from Macau included Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan, Prosecutor General Ip Son-sang, and the city's financial, security and anti-graft chiefs. According to Han, in recent months President Xi has announced "a series of new concepts, thoughts and strategies" regarding the one country, two systems principle, the cooperation between Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, as well as the two former colonies' future development.
This is a review of the Hong Kong media and does
not necessarly represent the opinion of the Consulate General
of Switzerland. The Consulate General of Switzerland in
Hong Kong does not bear any responsibility for the topicality,
correctness, completeness or quality of the information
provided. Liability claims regarding damage caused by the
use of any information provided, including any kind of information
which might be incomplete or incorrect, will therefore be
Back to the top of the page