CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
Hong Kong faithful mourned John Paul II. In a declaration following
the pope’s death, the Acting Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang
said “To me as a Catholic, sharing the same vision as all
Catholics on earth, it's an enormous grief in the death of our Pope
John Paul II… He is forever my Holy Father. I will remember
his laughter and his holiness…” The catholic diocese
of Hong Kong will continue to act as a bridge between China and
the Holy See in the papacy of John Paul II’s successor, a
Vatican official said. As to domestic politics, on April 27, Beijing
ordered that HK’s next chief executive will serve only the
two years remaining of the previous Chief executive’s term.
Next chief executive will serve two years: The NPC Standing
Committee officially decided on April 27 that in the event of the
office of chief executive becoming vacant, the next chief shall
serve out the reminder of his predecessor’s five-year tenure.
So HK’s next leader will serve just for two years until July
2007. This ruling supersedes anything local courts could decide
and will stave off legal challenges that may delay or derail the
election of July 10. For the opposition it sets another bad precedent
showing Beijing’s overall power and disdain for the rule of
law. Critics say that now the door is open for an always more flexible
interpretation of laws by the central government. If it turns out
in the future that the way a law is written does not suit the government,
the authorities now have the ability to argue that the spirit behind
the law was actually different and therefore the law as written
should be ignored or revised to suit the circumstances of the moment.
The popular mobilization against the NPC’ interpretation has
been minimal with two public protests, a silent rally by lawyers
fearful for the rule of law and a march by a few hundred people.
Citizens’ trust swing towards HK leaders: For the first
time in four years people trust the HK government more than they
trust Beijing according to a recent poll. The popularity of acting
chief executive D. Tsang has hit a all time high as well as that
of Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung.
WTO meeting: HK's commerce chief is optimistic that WTO members
can achieve a breakthrough on trade liberalisation talks at a summit
in the city later this year. "We do not expect the talks to
conclude this year, but we need to bring it forward a significant
distance so we can conclude the Doha round in 2006" Mr Tsang
said. He added that HK was a natural host for the meeting since,
as a financial centre and free port, it had no conflict of interest
in controversial agricultural and tariff issues. He said HK would
push for a greater market access in services such as logistics,
telecommunications, to other WTO member states. But he said HK and
the mainland would not work together during the talks because the
differences in their interests were too great.
City braces for WTO farm protest: as many as 8000 militant
South Korean farmers are preparing to come to HK in December. The
total number of protesters is estimated at around 20’000.
Popes: According to HK’s catholic Bishop Joseph Zen
Ze-kiun Pope John Paul II’s one regret must have been
that he never had the chance to visit China or even Honk Kong. The
Bishop noticed that kind words came from Beijing which raised some
new optimism about the re-establishment of Sino-Vatican diplomatic
relations: along with Beijing’s condolences the two conditions
for eventual rapprochement were reiterated; firstly to sever ties
with Taiwan and secondly to stop interfering in Chinese affairs,
even in religious matters. Bishop Zen stressed that the problem
is not about Taiwan (Cardinal Sodanos’s words made it clear
that the Holy see is ready to take the step of severing ties with
Taiwan) but interference: Calling the appointment of bishops by
the pope an “interference in internal affairs of China”
is obviously a misunderstanding he said. He added that it is a purely
religious matter accepted by all big nations but that he understands
that before full mutual trust can be built, the Holy See may accept
some participation of the Beijing Government. Bishop J. Zen praised
the election of Pope Benedict XVI describing him as a man
to chart a course of stability for the catholic church in a chaotic
world. He said that the new pontiff would bring fresh hope that
the Vatican and Beijing could rebuild diplomatic relations broken
for half a century.
American consul general calls for more democracy: In his
goodbye address he made a thinly veiled call for greater democracy
insisting that HK people deserve the trust of their government.
He also appealed to preserve the rule of law.
PPRD visit to HK: A delegation of representatives from the
Pan-Pearl River Delta (PPRD) General Co-ordination Offices of the
nine provinces in Mainland and the Macao SAR visited HK to foster
closer relationships and help in exploring new co-operation opportunities.
The PPRD or “9+2” region comprises nine provinces/area
in the Mainland - Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan,
Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan - and Hong Kong and Macao SARs. HK Government
stated that Hong Kong had to maintain and strengthen its status
as an international transport hub and maritime centre and would
encourage enterprises in the PPRD region to set up branch offices
and to list in Hong Kong. In accordance with Closer Economic Partnership
Arrangement (CEPA), HK would progressively enhance their provision
of professional services in the Mainland, especially in the "9+2"
Mainland mums may get $20’000.- hospital bill: Health
authorities ask that Mainland China pregnant women who abuse HK’s
public hospital system should pay a penalty.
HK used to channel out corrupt money from mainland: Prosten
Technology Holdings, a HK listed company, served as a conduit for
USD 1 million bribe paid to the former chairman of China Construction
Bank. With this type of affair HK runs the risk that Beijing will
intervene more in the future to investigate firms that support illegal
activities on the Mainland.
Legal Affairs and human rights
ICAC ordered to halt bugging of suspects: district judge
ruled that the use of hidden electronic bugs by ICAC violates Art.
30 of the Basic law which protects the right to private communication.
Tough battle ahead for gay groups: while gay groups see the
legislation to be soon discussed as a necessary step towards equal
opportunities, Christian and family concern groups believe it would
unleash a dangerous tide of tolerance and upset society’s
Odd man out on equality panel: the first member of the 350’000
strong Asian community has been appointed to the Equal Opportunities
Commission. When the anti-racism bill becomes law, the EOC’s
mandate, which already encompasses gender and disability biases,
will become more important.
Sino-Japanese relations & HK: The chief executive of
the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, warned that continued
deterioration of Sino-Japanese relation would hurt their economic
ties and it would in turn affect HK which traded heavily with both
parties. Travel Industry Council chairman said about 30% of Japanese
tourists had cancelled their visits to HK planned for May and June
because of the recent anti-Japanese sentiment in the mainland. But
the total number of tourists would not be much affected as Japanese
visitors only accounted for 14 per cent of the total. He predicted
the number of Japanese tourists would rise in the second half of
CEPA - local watchmakers want tariff rule waived: The watchmaking
industry is urging the HK Government to change the existing rule
(30% value-added requirement in HK) for tariff-free products to
Mainland China under CEPA. The watch industry said that it was difficult
to meet the requirement. In the past 16 months, only about HK$2.5
million worth of HK watches were exported to Mainland China under
CEPA. The total watch exports were about HK$45.6 billion during
the same period.
Delta link bidding: International bidding for the US$3.8
billion Pearl River Delta bridge linking HK, Macau and Zhuhai is
expected within months under a tight planning schedule that aims
for building to start before the end of the year. The bridge could
be completed by 2010. Hopewell Highway Infrastructure (HHI), is
a strong proponent and front-runner for the project. The 28km bridge
would connect with HHI's toll roads - the 122.8km Guangzhou-Shenzhen
Superhighway, the 38km Guangzhou east-southwest ring road and the
proposed 56.7km Guangzhou-Zhuhai superhighway - in a loop network
at the heart of the Pearl River Delta. The bridge would cut travel
between HK and Macau to about 30 minutes.
New trade fairs: HK is looking to bolster its role as one
of Asia's leading trade fair locations by staging eight new events
from next year, six of which will be located at the 66’000-square-metre
Asia World-Expo site at Chek Lap Kok. The industries covered by
the fairs will be printing and packaging, car parts, leisure vehicles,
building materials and construction equipment, furniture, environmental
technology, textile manufacturing; and medical and health care.
Close to balanced budget: HK Government achieved budgetary
surplus of HK$21.4 billion due to increased tax revenue and cost-cutting
efforts in 2004. If taking out issue of government bonds worth of
HK$ 26 billion, it recorded a slight deficit of only HK$4.6 billion.
Unemployment: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood
at 6.1% (provisional figure) in January - March 2005, same as that
in December 2004 - February 2005. The underemployment rate, however,
moved up from 3.0% to 3.1% (provisional figure) between the two
periods. The overall employment situation continued to improve but
just offset by increase of labour supply. Total employment soared
to an all-time high of 3 354 000.
More direct exports from China: Based on trade figures in
March, economists warned that China has been exporting more directly
to the rest of the world and not via HK. Ports in the Pearl River
Delta pose mounting threats to HK, in particular Yantian port in
Shenzhen. On the other hand, HK’s airport is much ahead of
their rivals in China in terms of efficiency and traffic volume.
Inflation rate: The Composite CPI recorded moderate increase
at 0.8% in March, suggesting that inflationary pressure remained
benign. Consumer prices are expected to edge up gradually in the
months ahead, as consumption demand strengthens and as higher retained
import prices gradually feed through to the retail level.
Flu kits to be distributed: Prepare for pandemic urges flu
kits to be distributed to households soon, it recommends that residents
buy in an adequate stock of masks and pills. A flu information kit
to be issued to households urges them to stock up on surgical masks
and anti-fever medicine in preparation for a possible flu pandemic,
the city's top disease control expert said yesterday. But Centre
for Health Protection (CHP) controller Leung Pak-yin said he would
not recommend people begin stockpiling remedies like Tamiflu yet,
suggesting that individuals instead inquire whether their GPs have
sufficient reserves. Dr Leung pointed out the flu preparedness plan
was not aimed at averting a pandemic. The whole strategy of a pandemic
preparedness plan is to decrease the mortality and morbidity. “In
no way can you stop it," he said. Hong Kong's Preparedness
Plan for Influenza Pandemic was drafted along the lines of the World
Health Organisation's global plan, which was finalised recently
Pollutants: China Light Power, HK’s largest power supplier,
emitted more key pollutants after turning to low quality coal to
generate electricity in 2004. The power sector generally contributes
about 89% of sulphur dioxide.
Cleaner harbour by 2013: HK harbour will be cleaner by 2013
with new sewage treatment facilities completed. This HK$8.4 billion
programme will help improve dissolved oxygen level by 5%.
Casinos in Hong Kong?: Now that Singapore has announced its
intention to open casinos, observers are asking whether HK will
Action urged in deepening aging crisis: many observers fear
that the declining fertility rate will have an negative impact on
the quality of life in HK.
Press articles related to Switzerland
South China Morning Post, 15.04.2005: An article by Associated Press
in New York states that a federal judge has awarded nearly US$ 22
million to heirs of two wealthy families victimised by the Holocaust.
By far the largest single claim paid so far in a case against Swiss
banks accused of selling out to the Nazis.
Post Magazine, 03.04.2005: an article on the exhibition "Photographs
Sans Frontières” at the HK’s Foreign Correspondents
Club presenting photographs by Swiss physician, photographer and
author Dr Raymond Lasserre, 83. The article was published under
the title “Lost worlds” and described the exhibition
and Lasserre’s book “Médecin sur tous les fronts”
as a testament to his life at a time he was dying of cancer.
See document (pdf,
7 p., 70 kb) presenting the “Switzerland greets Hong Kong”
Media Coverage Part 2.
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
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