CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
ECONOMY & FINANCE
- Worst drop since 1999 (SCMP, August 2)
- Turf war over HK's stock market regulation (SCMP, August 5)
- HK digital broadcaster DBC seeks to return licence to government (SCMP, August 8)
- HK economy grows 1.7 per cent in second quarter (SCMP, August 13)
- HK slips in global innovation ranking as regional competitors edge ahead (SCMP, August 16)
- Shenzhen-HK Stock Connect will boost city's global status, says John Tsang (SCMP, August 22)
- Britain looks to HK and mainland China for post-Brexit trade talks (SCMP, August 23)
- First five companies licensed to offer stored value facilities in HK (SCMP, August 26)
- HK retail sales slide 7.7 per cent in July despite upbeat tourist numbers (SCMP, August 30)
- 'The dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes': Beijing blasts HK activist Joshua Wong as a pro-independence advocate backed by the USA (SCMP, August 2)
- Row over election ban on localist escalates as HK justice minister's explanation backfires (SCMP, August 4)
- HK 'can handle' Legco disqualification row; Beijing won't be asked to step in (SCMP, August 8)
- I disagree with his judgment: HK Legco president distances himself from CY Leung (SCMP, August 20)
- HK urged to adopt British 'first-past-the-post' election system to weed out more extreme candidates (SCMP, August 23)
- Threats and attempted bribery alleged as HK's New Territories West Legco candidate drops out of poll race (SCMP, August 26)
- Legco election candidates to face 'follow-up action' if they back HK independence, government warns (SCMP, August 30)
- Ken Chow must 'clearly' explain reasons for shock election exit, says Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (SCMP, August 31)
- North Korean defector leaves HK for South Korea (SCMP, August 24)
- Balance freedom of debate with respect for law, says outgoing British consul general (SCMP, August 30)
LEGAL AFFAIRS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
- HK needs change of heart on asylum seekers, says refugee from Congo based in South Korea (SCMP, August 21)
- HK anti-graft commissioner defends its independence following weeks of top-level staffing turmoil (SCMP, August 23)
- HK pork vendors knuckle down to change testing, reporting procedures following tainted pigs scandal (SCMP, August 8)
- Junior HK nurses set for supervision in performing risky procedures in bid to reduce hospital blunders (SCMP, August 23)
- More Zika cases possible in HK, health official warns (SCMP, August 27)
- HK's first local case of dengue fever confirmed (SCMP, August 30)
- Nuclear cover-up (SCMP, August 5)
- HK Green Building Council seeks to reward projects with distinctive community impact (SCMP, August 11)
CULTURE AND EDUCATION
- HKU chief argues hiring reforms will avoid cronyism and denies political motive behind changes (SCMP, August 8)
- From kindergarten age, HK's children are tutored to be winners (SCMP, August 9)
- HK education minister rejects calls for guidelines on discussing independence in schools (SCMP, August 20)
- Chinese Olympic delegation receives a warm welcome in HK – without politics (SCMP, August 28)
- Mainland China universities favoured over HK institutions, survey finds (SCMP, August 31)
- Protest planned in Macau to support Uber after car-hailing firm quits under pressure (SCMP, August 26)
PRESS ARTICLES RELATED TO SWITZERLAND AND SWISS MATTERS
- ChemChina clinches US security approval to buy Swiss seeds giant Syngenta (Bloomberg, SCMP, August 23)
Economy + Finance
Worst drop since 1999 (SCMP, August 2): HK's retail sales plunged 10.5 per cent in the first half of this year – the worst drop in 17 years – dragged down by the persistent tourism and economic downturn. The June decline was led by jewellery, watches and other luxury items – usually popular with mainland visitors – which plunged 20.4 per cent in sales. “Most of the member companies anticipate the downward trend to continue but slow down in the remaining year of 2016, taking into account a lower base recorded in the second half of 2015,” the HK Retail Management Association said. “Looking ahead, the near-term retail sales performance will still depend on the performance of inbound tourism, as well as the extent to which consumer sentiment will be affected by uncertainties about the economic outlook,” a government spokesman said.
Turf war over HK's stock market regulation (SCMP, August 5): The turf war between the city's two market regulators took another turn for the worse as the head of the Securities and Futures Commission hit back at HK Exchanges and Clearing in a rare public rebuttal over contentious listing reform proposals. SFC chief executive Ashley Alder rejected criticism of the proposals – which would give his agency greater power in the listing process – by stock market regulator HKEX, accountants and listed companies, warning that their objections could leave the public “misinformed”. “The reforms are aimed at creating an efficient, focused and publicly accountable one-stop shop to quickly get on top of and pursue complex listing policy options to set the right conditions for a flourishing, competitive and healthy market,” he said.
HK digital broadcaster DBC seeks to return licence to government (SCMP, August 8): Amid growing problems in HK's media industry, Digital Broadcasting Corporation is going off-air and has applied to return its licence to the government, citing “unsatisfactory” developments in the digital radio industry. Job losses will total 113. DBC is the second broadcaster to surrender its digital audio broadcasting licence in a year, leaving only two others in the field – Metro Broadcast and government-owned RTHK. Phoenix URadio earlier returned its licence. DBC boss Loh Chan said the move was not due to immediate financial difficulties, but a lack of prospects in digital broadcasting and government policies that failed to help digital radio reach a wider audience, causing difficulties in attracting advertising. Baptist University assistant professor of journalism To Yiu-ming believed the government's policy had failed as it had introduced digital radio without at the same time shutting down analogue services.
HK economy grows 1.7 per cent in second quarter (SCMP, August 13): HK's economy grew at a modest but better-than-expected pace of 1.7 per cent in the second quarter of the year, with economists predicting the worst of the recent downturn is over. “HK's economy regained some momentum in the second quarter,” acting government economist Andrew Au said. He said second-quarter growth was largely supported by an uptick in goods exports, as regional trade flows began to stabilise after a disappointing start to the year. “The worst time should have passed,” said Simon Lee, a senior lecturer at the school of accountancy at the Chinese University of HK. He said the negative impact brought by Brexit should gradually fade away. Lee was confident HK would meet its full-year growth target, but said the headwinds from the sluggish global economic environment still persisted, and HK, as an export-oriented economy, was not immune.
HK slips in global innovation ranking as regional competitors edge ahead (SCMP, August 16): HK has fallen further down global innovation rankings while its regional rivals continue to climb the annual list. The city fell to rank 14th in the Global Innovation Index 2016 (GII), which was released by Cornell University, INSEAD business school and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. It marked a drop from 11th position in last year's report. Switzerland again topped the ranking with Sweden and the United Kingdom taking out second and third position. The United States and Finland placed fourth and fifth.
Shenzhen-HK Stock Connect will boost city's global status, says John Tsang (SCMP, August 22): The much-anticipated share-trading link between HK's and Shenzhen's stock markets will “further strengthen HK's status as an international financial centre”, the city's financial chief John Tsang said. On August 16, Premier Li Keqiang announced the State Council had already approved the new Shenzhen-HK Stock Connect. It is the second cross-border stock trading arrangement between China and HK, after a similar link with Shanghai. Writing on his weekly blog, Tsang said: “HK can further strengthen its status as an international financial centre and an offshore trading hub. [China] can also make use of HK to further open up its capital market, and push forward the internationalisation of the Chinese yuan. “It is definitely a correct way forward for the nation and for HK to deepen the integration between our financial markets.”
Britain looks to HK and mainland China for post-Brexit trade talks (SCMP, August 23): China and HK will be prioritised in Britain's post-Brexit trade talks, Richard Graham, the head of a British parliamentary committee on China relations, told the Post. During talks with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on August 22, Graham said it was a priority to strengthen UK-Hong Kong links and to take advantage of opportunities from both sides with a potential free-trade agreement and the One Belt, One Road initiative. Graham said he wanted to see HK sign a free-trade deal as soon as Britain formally exits the European Union, and included Beijing as part of the first wave of countries he would recommend to the Department for International Trade to seal commercial agreements.
First five companies licensed to offer stored value facilities in HK (SCMP, August 26): HK's de facto central bank granted the first batch of licences to five stored-value service providers in a landmark move to regulate the city's rapidly expanding electronic payment business. The five licence holders picked out of 20 applicants are: Alipay Wallet, operated by Alibaba that owns the Post; Tap & Go, run by PCCW's HKT, WeChat Pay, Hong Kong-based TNG Wallet, and Octopus & O! ePay run by Octopus Cards. “The grant of the first batch of licences for [issuers of stored-value facilities] is turning a new page in retail payment development in HK,” Norman Chan, chief executive at the authority, said. Chan said the implementation of the licensing regime would assist the introduction of new payment means and foster innovation in the local retail payment industry.
HK retail sales slide 7.7 per cent in July despite upbeat tourist numbers (SCMP, August 30): HK's retail sales saw a decline of 7.7 per cent in July, even though mainland tourist arrivals rebounded for the first time in 13 months. Last month's figures marked the 17th consecutive monthly contraction, but the drop was smaller than in June, which saw a fall of 8.9 per cent compared with the same period last year. “The shopping pattern of mainland tourists has changed,” Retail Management Association chairman Thomson Cheng said. He cited the government as saying that the average spending per mainland tourist dropped 15.8 per cent to HK$7,105 in the first six months. The figure was more than HK$9,000 two years ago.
'The dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes': Beijing blasts HK activist Joshua Wong as a pro-independence advocate backed by the USA (SCMP, August 2): A video released by China's highest prosecution agency has branded HK's most prominent pro-democracy youngster, Joshua Wong, a pro-independence advocate backed by the US, which it said wanted to turn China into another Syria. “The shadow of internal and external troubles has not dispersed from the Chinese sky,” the text reads. “Tibet, Xinjiang, HK and Taiwan independence, as well as dissident leaders, lawyers who would fight until death and other agents of the Western forces are damaging China's internal stability and harmony by hook or by crook. Behind all these incidents, we can often catch a glimpse of the dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes.” Wong's image appears twice – a photo of him on hunger strike ahead of the pro-democratic civil-disobedience Occupy movement in 2014, and in a newspaper clip from the pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po highlighting his “American background”. Wong said he did not advocate for HK independence during his 2014 hunger strike and that he viewed the “false statements” from the “state apparatus” as jokes.
Row over election ban on localist escalates as HK justice minister's explanation backfires (SCMP, August 4): The row over the barring of a localist leader from next month's Legislative Council elections intensified as the HK justice minister Rimsky Yuen's explanation backfired. The justice chief tried to defend the Electoral Affairs Commission's decision to disqualify Edward Leung a day after returning officer Cora Ho invalidated the HK Indigenous member's candidacy on the grounds that he had no intention of upholding the Basic Law. “The returning officer has already explained the argument clearly in her reply, which I think has a legal basis,” Yuen said. But all 30 members of the legal sub-sector in the 1,200-strong Election Committee that picked HK's leader in 2012 hit out in a joint statement. They countered that returning officers were not empowered to investigate the “genuineness” of candidates' declarations to respect the city's mini-constitution, let alone make "a subjective and political decision to disqualify a candidate without following any due process on the purported ground that the candidate will not genuinely uphold the Basic Law. Such an inquiry and decision are not only unlawful but amount to political censorship and screening by the returning officer without any legal basis,” they said. The 30 committee members are all either from the pan-democratic camp or linked to it. The election watchdog sparked uproar last month by imposing a new requirement on Legco candidates to sign an extra form reinforcing acceptance of the city's status as an inalienable part of China, on top of the standard declaration to uphold the Basic Law. Chinese University political scientist Dr Ma Ngok said the justice minister's explanation was “subjective, selective and unconvincing. Many people have touched on independence one way or another but why some of them were qualified but others were not?”
HK 'can handle' Legco disqualification row; Beijing won't be asked to step in (SCMP, August 8): The HK government made clear that it had no plans to resort to a contentious option of asking the national legislature to interpret the Basic Law to fend off legal battles looming over the candidate disqualification fracas. Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen gave the assurance after localist Edward Leung of HK Indigenous said he would submit an election petition against a returning officer's “political decision” to disqualify him from running in the Legislative Council elections. “The issue can be handled by the legal system in HK. From the stance of the Department of Justice, we will not seek the National People's Congress to reinterpret the law,” Yuen said. Leung and five other localists were banned from contesting the polls after electoral returning officers ruled they were violating the Basic Law with their pro-independence stance.
I disagree with his judgment: HK Legco president distances himself from CY Leung (SCMP, August 20): Outgoing Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang, who is considering running for the city's top job, revealed that he had disagreed with the chief executive's judgment on political issues and opposition forces. The revelation came in an interview published by mainland news portal Jiemian, which removed the article from its website without explanation, hours after posting it online in the morning. Leung is known for his combative approach towards the pan-democrats while Tsang has been calling on Beijing to engage in dialogue with the camp. On controversial calls for HK independence, Tsang said a smooth implementation of the “one country, two systems” formula offered the best way to address the issue.
HK urged to adopt British 'first-past-the-post' election system to weed out more extreme candidates (SCMP, August 23): HK needs a British-style voting system which could weed out more extreme candidates, the head of a British parliamentary committee on China relations has told the South China Morning Post in an exclusive interview. Richard Graham, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary China Group, said that HK should adopt a one person, one vote system, which would make councillors more accountable to their constituents. The system allows one candidate with the highest number of votes to be returned in a single-seat constituency. This was used in the 1995 Legco elections, when the Democratic Party won 12 out of 20 directly elected seats. A proportional representation system was introduced in 1998 – the first polls held after the handover. Candidates are returned on the basis of a “quota”, with some being allocated according to the “largest remainder”. This means candidates – including some from fringe parties – can be returned with a low proportion of the vote. This voting structure has led to a more fragmented legislature.
Threats and attempted bribery alleged as HK's New Territories West Legco candidate drops out of poll race (SCMP, August 26): Liberal Party aspirant Ken Chow, who is running for a Legislative Council seat in New Territories West, dropped a bombshell by announcing he would stop his electioneering for fear of “people close to him paying a heavy price”. Chow's abrupt move has sparked speculation on whether the Yuen Long district councillor is being pressured by Beijing's liaison office, which is allegedly coordinating the election campaign of the pro-establishment camp. In an interview with magazine E-Weekly, Chow admitted that he was earlier approached by a middleman to quit the race for a hefty sum of money – double the amount of his election expenses. Chow claimed he had told the middleman that such deals were illegal and that he still believed he was free to contest in a democratic society like HK. Liberal Party leader Felix Chung told the Post he was shocked by Chow's announcement and that he needed more time to “know the story first”. Chow is the first candidate to quit the race over alleged threats. Under electoral rules, no verified candidate can withdraw from the election once the nomination period has ended.
Legco election candidates to face 'follow-up action' if they back HK independence, government warns (SCMP, August 30): Legislative Council election candidates will face possible “follow-up actions” if they have come out in support of HK independence during electioneering, the government said in a statement. “The government is concerned that ... individual candidates have during the election period advocated or promoted the 'independence of the HKSAR',” a government spokesman said, adding that this was against the statutory declaration that they would uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the special administrative region. “The HKSAR government reserves the right to take follow-up actions in accordance with the law,” the statement said, without specifying what kind of action would be taken.
Ken Chow must 'clearly' explain reasons for shock election exit, says Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (SCMP, August 31): Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said that the Liberal Party's Ken Chow should “explain the situation clearly” after his surprise announcement that he would stop all electioneering, fearing for “higher-level troubles and a heavy price” for those close to him. Asked whether the case would affect public confidence in a fair and clean election, Leung said that the case had been reported to the Independent Commission Against Corruption and an investigation would be carried out. Meanwhile, Leung said educational institutions should be clear that there is no room for discussion of separating HK from China, as it was clear that the advocacy of independence is in violation of the Basic Law.
North Korean defector leaves HK for South Korea (SCMP, August 24): Seoul's YTN news channel reported that the 18-year-old North Korean student who sought refuge in HK “had safely arrived in a third country”. A source told the Post that the youth, identified as Jong Yol-ri, was accompanied by staff from the South Korean consulate and the HK government to the city's airport where he boarded a flight for Seoul about a week ago. He is the first known North Korean to defect in HK since the city's handover to China in 1997. Steve Chung, an expert in Korean affairs at the Chinese University of HK, said the defector's departure was likely to have been endorsed by the Beijing government.
Balance freedom of debate with respect for law, says outgoing British consul general (SCMP, August 30): Young people should enjoy freedom of debate as long as it is done with respect for the law, the outgoing British consul general says, when she was asked to comment on the HK government warning against independence talk in schools. But Caroline Wilson treads carefully on the disqualifications of some separatist candidates from running for the legislature, noting that the matter has entered a judicial process. But the diplomat also reiterated that the British government had made it clear it did not support the city breaking away from China, and she felt the idea “doesn't make any sense”. Wilson said the situations in Scotland and HK were different, because HK had a written constitution that stated it was part of China. “As the representative of the country that signed the Joint Declaration, I support freedoms to be exercised in HK, but I also have to recognise HK's constitutional structure.”
Legal affairs and human rights
HK needs change of heart on asylum seekers, says refugee from Congo based in South Korea (SCMP, August 21): It's about time that HKong changes its perception on asylum seekers and improves its screening mechanism, says Yiombi Thona, 48, a political refugee from Congo and professor in the liberal arts division at Gwangju University in South Korea. “HK should give space to refugees to breath as human beings and be self-reliant,” Thona, who is also deputy chairman of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, said. “I think the HK system must change or be improved. The acceptance rate is very low ... It's an opaque system, and I don't understand why,” he said. As of June this year, there were 11,169 outstanding claimants in the city, with most coming from Vietnam, India and Pakistan. Between 2009 and June, only 55 people had their claims recognised. HK's current acceptance rate stands at 0.6 per cent, whereas internationally it is around 30 per cent.
HK anti-graft commissioner defends its independence following weeks of top-level staffing turmoil (SCMP, August 23): HK's most senior anti-graft official has rejected claims that turmoil at the top of the agency he heads is a signal that its independence and ability to withstand interference are under threat. In his first extensive response after weeks of internal discord, Independent Commission Against Corruption Commissioner Simon Peh moved to reassure the public that the fight against graft was safe in the organisation's hands and its independence remained intact. In a statement which coincided with the release of the 2016 World Competitiveness Yearbook by the Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development, which ranked HK higher than in previous years in its work in fighting bribery, Peh issued a robust defence of the commission and its values. He said the result showed that the city's efforts in integrity building were highly recognised internationally. Peh said despite rumours and speculation about recent movements at the top of the ICAC, the commission remained as committed as ever to fighting corruption and safeguarding HK's reputation as one of the cleanest cities in the world.
HK pork vendors knuckle down to change testing, reporting procedures following tainted pigs scandal (SCMP, August 8): Pork traders are pushing to make changes to the current testing and reporting mechanism for imported pigs after the government failed to stop the sale of contaminated pork in the market. The proposal comes a day after Food and Health Secretary Dr Ko Wing-man publicly apologised for the scandal, saying the government had made mistakes – possibly on “more than one level”. Last week, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) discovered 319 pigs from Jiangxi province in south-east China had traces of Salbutamol and Clenbuterol. The drugs, commonly used to treat asthma, also artificially enhance animal growth and leanness.] Mainland authorities issued a ban on August 6 on livestock farms in Jiangxi from exporting pigs to the city.
Junior HK nurses set for supervision in performing risky procedures in bid to reduce hospital blunders (SCMP, August 23): The Hospital Authority will boost training for junior nurses by having retired nurses supervise them while they perform risky medical procedures. The scheme, to be launched later this year, is aimed at reducing the number of blunders. The new programme, which focuses on procedures such as tube feeding, blood transfusions and distribution of medicine, will be launched “as soon as possible” once details have been confirmed. Retired staff will be used to instruct young nurses, who will initially receive training for two to three days while working on a part-time basis.
More Zika cases possible in HK, health official warns (SCMP, August 27): More Zika cases could be imported into the city after the first case was reported on August 25, a top health official warned. The acting Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, was speaking after the city went into heightened alert on the virus, which can cause serious birth defects, when a 38-year-old expatriate woman was confirmed to be infected after returning from the Caribbean island of Saint-Barthelemy. “There are many people coming in and out of HK every day, and lots of Hongkongers are visiting Zika-affected countries as well. We would not rule out the possibility of having more sporadic imported cases,” Chan said. She said mosquito control measures were a vital way of preventing the spread of the virus and the emergence of locally infected cases.
HK's first local case of dengue fever confirmed (SCMP, August 30): A 79-year-old woman who often visited the Zoological and Botanical Gardens has become the first person to contract dengue fever in the city, prompting health officials to urge the public to take extra steps to avoid mosquitoes. Some 81 people have been treated for the mosquito-borne disease this year in HK. But 79 of those were classified as imported cases, with one case still under investigation. Dengue fever is transmitted to humans through bites from infective female Aedes mosquitoes – a common species that can also spread Zika. The Centre for Health Protection urged the public to maintain strict environmental hygiene and take measures to avoid mosquitoes both locally and during travel.
Nuclear cover-up (SCMP, August 5): Four staff members at a nuclear power plant (about 220km north of HK) in Guangdong have been punished for breaching operational guidelines and trying to cover up the failures, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said, more than a year after the incident took place. Greenpeace senior campaigner Frances Yeung questioned why HK was not informed under the notification mechanism it has with Guangdong over nuclear accidents or events in the province. “The fact that it was covered up is frightening. No one knew about this until a year later,” Yeung said. “You cannot have effective regulatory oversight without transparency.” The Security Bureau said it was aware of the event but would not say if the plant informed the HK government.
HK Green Building Council seeks to reward projects with distinctive community impact (SCMP, August 11): Developers will be encouraged to think outside the box when a new rating tool for projects and their impact on the community is launched in December. The BEAM Plus Neighbourhood rating will take into account more than 50 aspects not found in regular building assessments such as traffic, ecology, public space, ventilation and quality of outdoor environment. “Many developers tend to think only about what happens within the red line, their boundary, without thinking about how their project affects other buildings or the community,” said Dr Benny Chow, director of the Green Building Council, which is introducing the tool.
Culture and Education
HKU chief argues hiring reforms will avoid cronyism and denies political motive behind changes (SCMP, August 8): The University of HK's vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson has put up a stout defence of plans to overhaul how it hires its academics, dismissing fears they would concentrate decision-making in the hands of a few as “gross misrepresentations”. The proposed changes would modernise the university's hiring practices to empower deans in the appointment of full and associate professors, protect junior staff and avoid “cronyism”, he said in an emailed letter to academic staff. Vice-Chancellor Peter Mathieson says the move was to modernise the institution and in line with the vision to become 'Asia's global university'.
From kindergarten age, HK's children are tutored to be winners (SCMP, August 9): Many HK children are raised to be winners from day one, according to the latest study from Chinese University. In HK, the mentality has become so integrated in local parents' minds that it is commonplace to load children up with training courses or tutorial classes from a very young age in order for them to achieve good grades. The institute's poll showed almost nine out of 10 respondents agreed that the “winning at the starting line” mentality was very common or quite common. An overwhelming 91 per cent of the respondents felt that HK children already faced “very high” or “quite high” study stress.
HK education minister rejects calls for guidelines on discussing independence in schools (SCMP, August 20): HK's education minister ruled out imposing guidelines on schools for dealing with independence talk, saying the government would rely on the “professionalism” of teachers and principals to curb advocacy. Ng has been under intense pressure to smooth the storm set off by the Education Bureau when it warned that teachers could lose their jobs if they encouraged independence advocacy in schools. The minister insisted no additional guidelines were needed, while stressing that independence advocacy should not be allowed on campuses. As for plans by some localist groups to distribute leaflets to promote the idea of independence, Ng said it should not be allowed by the schools as he had learned that such publications preached violence and illegal actions.
Chinese Olympic delegation receives a warm welcome in HK – without politics (SCMP, August 28): HK welcomed China's Olympic medallists with plenty of warmth and fanfare as the visiting national squad, fresh from the Rio Games, launched their own charm offensive in the city. Concerns about anti-mainland sentiment and political protests by radical localists were brushed aside, with one hugely popular national athlete Fu Yuanhui declaring the two sides were “one family, bonded by flesh and blood”. The 64-strong delegation started its three-day visit on a positive note, against a backdrop of political tension and contentious debate on the issue of independence as the city heads into its most critical elections since it returned to China.
Mainland China universities favoured over HK institutions, survey finds (SCMP, August 31): More parents around the world are considering sending their child to the mainland for university education than HK, a recently released survey has found. The poll, commissioned by HSBC and conducted by leading market research company Ipsos MORI, asked 6,241 parents from 15 countries and territories, including mainland China, HK, Singapore, Britain and the US – whether they would consider enrolling their child in a university overseas. Mainland China is the ninth most popular destination, three places ahead of HK. Lo Yat-wai, an academic from the Education University's department of international education and lifelong learning, said that while he had not noticed much of a difference in the reputation of HK universities in recent years, the mainland's higher education sector was getting a leg up because of the country's attractive job prospects.
Protest planned in Macau to support Uber after car-hailing firm quits under pressure (SCMP, August 26): Hundreds of supporters of car-hailing service Uber in Macau have vowed to take to the street on September 4 to protest at the government's crackdown on the operator, which has decided to quit. The Macao Community Development Initiative has called on Uber supporters in the gambling enclave to join the protest in support of Uber, which will bid farewell to the city on September 9, blaming heavy penalties imposed on the company's drivers and the authorities' reluctance to regulate the car-sharing industry. The US-based car hailing mobile phone app has been popular in Macau, where taxis are in short supply. Its operation in Macau has been deemed illegal by the authorities, who have launched 379 prosecutions related to Uber.
Press articles related to Switzerland and Swiss matters
ChemChina clinches US security approval to buy Swiss seeds giant Syngenta (Bloomberg, SCMP, August 23): China National Chemical Corp. received approval from US national security officials for its takeover of Swiss agrochemical and seeds company Syngenta AG, seen as the biggest regulatory hurdle that the US$43 billion acquisition faces. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) has cleared the transaction, the companies said in a statement. The deal, expected to be completed by the end of the year, is still subject to antitrust review by regulators worldwide, according to the statement. Syngenta, which got more than a quarter of revenue last year from seeds and crop protection in North America, would help transform state-owned ChemChina into a global pesticide and agrochemical giant.
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