CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
The September 12 Legco elections have been described as a milestone
on the path to democracy despite the fact that the pro-democracy
camp did not win the majority.
Legco elections: After a campaign marked by scandals, intimidation
by pro China factions and no real political debate the democratic
camp got 60% of the popular vote but only 25 seats on 60 in the
new legislature. Comments in the media reflected the gap between
the two camps: the pro-government papers hailed the victory of those
who love HK and the motherland while pro-democracy commentators
focused on the peaceful and orderly electoral process, on the important
popular participation and on the political maturity of HK citizens
who want universal suffrage.
Spectre of art 23 looms again in Legco: Just before the elections
an editorial of the Wall Street Journal stated that Beijing's goal
seems to be a rubber stamp legislature that will allow Mr Tung to
push through a set of draconian «anti-subversion» laws.
After the elections while the Liberal and DAB parties made a plea
supporting the reintroduction of a national security bill in the
new legislature, the chief executive in a surprise move rejected
it until consensus was found on the issue. Some commentators noted
that in case security is endangered, the NPC Standing Committee
could insist that the mainland's national security law be applied
Battle starts for the top job in 3 years: Front runners are
Leung Chung Ying and Finance Secretary Henry Tang. At the end of
September the chief executive rating hit 2 year high but still falling
short of passing grade of 50 points.
Moderate democrats invited to Beijing: Led by the chief executive
a delegation of 240 HK personalities including 10 newly elected
moderate pro-democracy lawmakers went to Beijing for the National
Day celebrations. Core members of the democratic camp were not invited
. President Hu urged the delegates to promote harmony and stability
built on love of the city and the motherland
Beijing shift in strategy towards HK: Premier Wen hailed
HK's elections as an advance for democracy in the SAR and said there
should be frequent dialogue between Beijing and various sectors
of the territory s society. Beijing plans bigger role in HK. There
are rumors that the central government will issue a new set of directives
to improve SAR governance which purpose is to catch with the new
situation. It appears to have recognized the new political reality
in HK and is willing to work with it.
20th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration:
on September 26 1984 HK's future was sealed with the signing of
a draft agreement on the return of the city to China. The Sino-British
Joint Declaration was a visionary treaty which has since shaped
the reality of HK.
Ex-dissident thanks Tung for help with China visa: Outspoken
film-maker John Sham who allegedly helped dissidents flee China
after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown credits Tung with helping
him get a home return permit valid for 10 years for the mainland.
Welfare benefits cut by 5,4% for elderly people: many commentators
have protested against the decision to reduce the pensions of the
generation that built modern HK describing it as unfair and cruel.
Outrage over arrest at German trade fair: HK exhibitor has
been expelled from fair and arrested for alleged infringement of
Puma trademark. He was pulled out by hair after being wrestled to
the floor by customs officials.
Human Rights and Legal Affairs
Freedom under threat during Legco election campaign: Human
Rights Watch has cited multiple incidents that it says point to
Beijing's interference in HK. According to the NGO the intimidation
of former commercial radio show hosts Albert Cheng and Raymond Wong
was directly linked to the election which it defined as " marred
" adding that 2004 is shaping up to be the worst year for civil
and political rights in HK since the 1997 handover.
Racism law under fire: Activists have called proposed anti-discrimination
legislation insincere as 3 months public consultation starts stressing
its main shortcomings i.e. the exclusion of the application of the
new law to mainland Chinese and to small companies with less than
6 employees The bill is set to come to effect in July 2005.
Metropolis of 50 millions in 20 years: urban planning specialists
foresee in 20 years a 50 million metropolis comprising HK, Shenzhen
Air pollution in the Pearl River Delta region worsening:
As in September air pollution hit record levels, HK clean-air team
went on a mission to Guangdong. Commentators stressed that China's
help is urgently needed to combat SAR pollution and that there is
a lack of an overall , comprehensive strategy on the environment
for the Pearl River Delta despite the Cooperation on PDR Air Quality
Management Plan signed in 2003.
Watch exports to China under CEPA: Watches and clocks were
among the products eligible for zero tariff status under CEPA. HK
watch industry representatives indicated that it would be difficult
for the industry to benefit from the current arrangements (to meet
30% or above of value-added content incurred in HK) and proposed
modifying the rules. HK Government stressed the need to find the
proper balance between incentives to entice the setting up of manufacturing
operations in Hong Kong and safeguards to protect the interests
of workers. Meanwhile, HK Government has been discussing these issues
with relevant Mainland authorities with the hope to arrive at some
mutually acceptable arrangement. Hong Kong exported some US$5.4
billion worth of watches and clocks in 2003, representing a solid
9% year-on-year growth.
New co-operation mechanism between the HKSAR Government and the
Beijing Municipal Government: It was established to further
enhance exchanges and co-operation between Hong Kong and Beijing,
in particular in the trade and economic fields. They agreed that
the opportunities created by the CEPA between the Mainland and Hong
Kong and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games would benefit both places,
and further boost their mutual development and prosperity.
Consumer price: Consumer prices in July rose 0.9%, marking
the first year-on-year rise in 68 months and signalling a milestone
in recovery from an economic decline that began with 97-98 Asian
Financial Crisis and was prolonged by SARS.
Retail sales: It rose to provisional HK16.2 billion in July
(up by 10.8% and 8% in value and volume respectively compared with
July 03) due to flourishing tourism, improved property and labour
market and strong consumer sentiment.
Survey by the World Bank: Hong Kong is the world's 4th easiest
place to do business, after New Zealand, USA, and Singapore. Switzerland
ranked the 11th.
UBS upbeat about HK economy: UBS mentioned on a local English
paper " the Standard " that a slew of recent agreements
between Mainland and Hong Kong would spur investment and consumption
in Hong Kong. The most recent measures include an extension of CEPA,
more flights to mainland for HK airlines and a streamlined approval
process for Chinese companies to set up and invest in Hong Kong.
Unemployment: August unemployment fell month on month to
6.8%, the lowest level in 3.5 years. Underemployment also fell month
on month from 3.5% to 3.3%. The restaurants, communications, manufacturing,
amusement and recreational services, decoration and maintenance
are the sectors seeing gains in employment. The total employment
figure reached to 3,294,000 people, a historical high. In the past
12 months, Hong Kong created about 100,000 jobs. Economists said
unemployment rate would drop further but bottom out around 6.5%.
Hong Kong still has structural issues to solve.
Business receipts: Comparing the 2nd of 2004 with the 2nd
quarter of 2003, business receipts of the hotels industry surged
by 190%. Business receipts of the financing (except banking), transport
and insurance industries also increased notably by 42%, 35% and
29% respectively. The increase in business receipts of the hotels
industry was largely attributable to the remarkable growth in inbound
tourism, and a relatively low base of comparison when inbound tourism
was seriously affected by SARS.
Foreign direct investment: Hong Kong retained its position
as Asia's second largest (11th largest in the world) destination
for foreign direct investment (FDI), according to the "World
Investment Report 2004" by the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Despite SARS and significant economic
challenges, the FDI flow to Hong Kong in 2003 reached US$13.6 billion,
up by 40% from an adjusted US$9.7 billion in 2002. The only larger
recipient of FDI in Asia was the Mainland with US$53.5 billion.
It reflects Hong Kong's strengthening position as a two-way platform
for overseas investors accessing the Mainland and rest of the region
- and for Mainland companies looking toward regional and global
expansion. Invest Hong Kong, HKSAR Government, promotes Hong Kong
to Mainland enterprises as a springboard and strategic base to expand
overseas at the 8th China International Fair for Investment and
Trade (CIFIT) in Xiamen, Fujian on September 9.
Organised crime: Police expect bloody turf war as HK and
mainland gangs flood the market. Triads fighting for control of
South Africa's drug trade made the headlines.
Sars breakthrough: HK scientists make SARS breakthrough team
by identifying molecules to stop virus being infectious.
Macau may loose cultural appeal: imitating Las Vegas Macau
is booming and risks loosing its cultural appeal.
Press articles related to Switzerland
South China Morning Post, 09.09.04: Among the people who
have made Hong Kong the SCMP cited Felix Bieger, noted Swiss hotelier
and former manager of the Peninsula Hotel. He believes that a sharp
memory is the key to a successful career in hotel: "You must
remember people s faces and their likes and dislikes. Guests always
appreciate it when you remember them and their tastes."
The Standard, 21.09.04: Trade fair hopes for drop in piracy.
Baselworld organiser Rene Kamm says that jewellery industry associations
are doing their bit to inform exhibitors about piracy laws. HK exhibitors
accounted for less than 10 of the 21 intellectual property right
infringement cases at this year at Baselworld watch and jewellery
trade fair and organisers expect his number to fall steadily in
the coming years. Cases are arbitrated on by an in house panel and
can result in an exhibitor being banned from the fair. In 2004 there
were 362 HK exhibitors at Baselworld making HK the third largest
contingent behind Switzerland and Italy.
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