CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
Donald Tsang is elected as Chief Executive… no surprise.
Chief executive election campaign: Before it started the
results of the campaign were known. Nevertheless, Donald Tsang,
the favoured incumbent, went on campaigning seriously declaring
he wanted to win the hearts of people. The whole process was described
in an International Herald Tribune commentary as fantasy democracy
with a preordained winner. He was finally elected by acclamation
after gaining the support of 710 out of the 800 members of the Electoral
Committee. An American group, The National Democratic Institute
for International Affairs, has criticized the recent poll as a non
New leader anointed in Beijing: During his formal swearing
in ceremony in the capital the Chinese PM warned Donald Tsang that
the high hopes and expectations of the country and Hong Kong people
are more important than congratulations. Analysts say the new Beijing
leadership by emphasizing accountability differs from former president
Jiang Zemin who often placed greater importance on personal relationships
and attachment. Tsang's political career will be at risk if
he does not perform and many observers also think that the central
government wants to test the loyalty of a chief executive who is
also known as a devout Roman Catholic and a former colonial civil
Democracy can wait, says Tsang: Democracy is well down the
list of the public's priorities, he told lawmakers in his
first Legco session. According to a Central Policy Unit survey unemployment,
good governance and combating pollution came top as priorities for
HK people while universal suffrage took 13th place on 25 surveyed
policy areas. He also pledged that barring “exceptional circumstances”
he would not reintroduce the Art 23 security bill within the next
Long Hair ejected from Legco for 3rd time: The controversial
legislator was expelled after his loud protest of Tsang's election
and plea for democracy.
Re-appointment of the cabinet: Donald Tsang re-appointed
the old cabinet and nominated Rafael Hui as the Chief Secretary
Exco urged to take in political parties: Some lawmakers are
urging the chief executive to consider restructuring EXCO to allow
for political parties to participate fully in HK's administration.
Currently they are excluded.
WTO summit security fears grow: With the WTO 6th Ministerial
Conference just six months away, foreign governments are increasingly
nervous about security preparations for the meeting amid worries
that anti-globalization protesters could seek to disrupt the high
profile talks. Western officials say they have yet to receive plans
from the Honk Kong police regarding security and logistical plans
for the December meeting.
Legal Affairs and human rights
Rule of law best in Asia – but SAR warned not to slip:
HK’s status as commercial centre has been reinforced by a
survey which ranks the territory’s judicial system the best
in Asia toppling Singapore. The report says Mainland China’s
record of law enforcement is, at best, patchy. It would only take
one concrete example of China interfering with a HK commercial case
to suffer a big set back in how the territory is perceived.
Lawyer lashes HK as World Refugee Day dawns: HK’s refusal
to adopt international screening standards for asylum seekers is
tarnishing the city’s reputation for upholding the rule of
law. Response of the government: “Our unique situation set
against the backdrop of our relative economic prosperity in the
region and our liberal visa regime, makes us vulnerable to possible
abuses if the Refugee Convention were to be extended to HK”.
During his election campaign for Chief Executive, Donald Tsang
published his economic policy: a) uphold the principles of “
Big Market, Small Government “ and “ Market Leads, Government
Facilitates“, b) consolidate and strengthen HK as a key financial,
trade, tourism, logistics and information centre, c) leveraging
China’s growth for HK’s economic success, d) act as
a bridge between the Mainland and global markets, e) capitalise
on the rapid economic development of China, especially in the Pearl
River Delta and Pan Pearl River Delta Region, f) further leverage
CEPA to speed up and expand investment by Mainland enterprises in
HK and strengthen local RMB business, g) expand Individual Visit
Scheme, h) increase investment in infrastructure, create jobs and
upgrade human capital, i) maintain a simple low-tax regime and strive
to achieve fiscal balance, j) support environmental protection and
promote sustainable development.
Tycoon to scrutinise competition policies: Christopher Cheng
Wai-chee, a clothing and real estate tycoon, has been appointed
to head a committee that will review HK’s competition policies.
Rate-rise worry for homebuyers: Henry Tang tries to reassure the
market as agents predict a plunge in sales. More of HK’s largest
lenders raised mortgage rates after the Bank of China and Wing Lung
Bank announced tighter terms for new homebuyers.
HK’s textile manufacturing: Manufacturers can escape
US quotas on textile exports by moving to the city: Acting Chief
Executive Henry Tang Ying-yen is expecting some local manufacturers
to move their mainland factories back to HK to escape the Sino-US
trade row, although industrial rents might not enjoy much of a revival
as a result. Some factories will return to HK and rents may have
to increase in some areas, but not by a whole lot. Overall, rents
should remain quite affordable. HK’s textile manufacturing,
in decline for nearly two decades, is in resurgence thanks to the
re-imposition of import caps of Chinese textile products by the
United States and the European Union. But since there is no longer
a ready pool of able textile workers, hiring staff is proving difficult.
HK still the belle of the ball: As a financial hub, Shanghai
may be catching up with HK, but it has far to go. Shanghai’s
claim to be an up-and-coming rival to HK has never looked so hollow.
As five mainland companies seeking to raise more than USD 7.7 billion
on the HK stock exchange jockeyed for position, the Shanghai and
Shenzhen markets were engaged in a struggle to justify their very
existence. The Shanghai A-Share Index reached its lowest level in
eight years. HK’s piece of Greater China listing pie grew
from 49% to 72.8% in the same period.
Investment in HK surges: Mainland enterprises spent $280
Mio. in first quarter of the year from $ 266 Mio. for the whole
of 2003 thanks to the central government’s facilitation policies,
a commerce official said. 55 mainland firms were granted approval
to invest in HK. This compares with 73 enterprises in 2003 and the
figure is expected to keep growing as more mainland enterprises
would want to use HK as the springboard to go global.
Unemployment rate: The number of people with jobs rose by
about 9400 to a record 3.36 million in May, or about half of HK’s
population. The increase came as the economic revival continued
to drive down the unemployment rate to a 43-month low of 5.7%.
Consumer price index posts 0.8% rise in May: Pricier package
tours and jewellery as well as a slowing decline in housing rents,
helped push inflation up by 0.8% in May compared to a year ago,
the government said. The increase in consumer prices is higher than
the 0.5% recorded in April but on par with February and March. Inflation
in May was roughly in line with analysts’ estimates. Analysts
expect inflation to top 1.1% in 2005 and are projecting price increases
of 1.9% or lower in 2006. An observer noted, that it was natural
for consumer prices to pick up as the overall economy improved.
Trade outlook: Healthy re-exports of merchandise and improving
domestic trade boosted the value of total goods exported last month
by 16.9% year on year to $193.4 billion. It was the first month
of double-digit growth since January. Compared with a year ago also
re-exports surged 18% to $183.5 billion. The fall in domestic exports
narrowed to 0.5% or $9.9 billion compared with more than 10% in
April. Machinery and equipment re-exports grew. Significant increases
were recorded in the value of domestic exports to Australia, Singapore
and the Netherlands.
Warning bells for Macau’s economy: The latest statistics
from Macau show an economic slowdown, but observers describe the
trend as a temporary setback and a sign of healthier growth. GDP
growth has eased, influx of mainland visitors has slowed and hotel
occupancy rates are at lowest level since Sars. The worrying signs
for the tourism industry occur against a background of slowing economic
growth that has fallen to single digits in the first quarter at
8.5%. While deflation persisted from 1999 until last June, the April
2005 consumer price index rose 3.22% year on year.
HK Airport profit surge: The HK Airport posted a record year
in every air traffic category in 2004/05 – from aircraft movements
(+27%) to passenger (+38%) and cargo volumes (+15%), generating
net earnings of HK$1.4 billion of which the HK Government reaped
HK Airport Authority expected further growth for 2005/06 due to
the consistent growth of traffic flow at the Pearl River Delta,
opening of a new exhibition venue and Disneyland Theme Park.
Former HK health chief promoted by WHO: Margaret Chan, who
was heavily criticised in HK for her handling of the SARS crisis,
has been promoted by WHO to be its chief influenza pandemic expert.
Arctic conditions inside malls and buses blasted: HK is branded
as a place that wastes energy and does not care about the environment.
HK’s public areas are the coldest in the world according to
HK PolyU study.
Disney’s U-turn on shark fin: Bowing to international
pressure, Disney has scrapped plans to serve shark’s fin soup
at its HK theme park citing its failure to locate sustainably harvested
Weak security makes HK top hacker target: HK’s unsuspecting
4.8 millions broadband internet users are among the most vulnerable
of the planet to attacks by so-called “zombie” computers.
Hong Kong swamped: Heavy raining caused flooding of some
shops on HK Island and left villagers in the New Territories trapped.
Press articles related to Switzerland
Apple Daily, Ming Pao, Wen Wei Po, Metro, Ta Kung Pao, Sing Tao
Daily, Oriental Daily, Hong Kong Economic Times, Hong Kong Economic
Journal, The Standard, SCMP, 7 June 2005/ SCMP, 9 June
2005/ Sing Tao Daily, 18 June 2005: Reported about Bertrand
Piccard’s visit to HK and his new project “Solar Impulse”
and Piccard’s as well as his message to promote renewable
energy and protect the resources of the world.
Wen Wei Po, 8 June 2005: Hong Kong Daily News, 9 June 2005:
Listeria bacteria in Swiss cheese were suspected to cause two deaths
and two miscarriages in Neuchâtel. Health officials called
on people not to eat Tomme cheese until further notice. The Food
and Environmental Hygiene Department investigates if the contaminated
cheese is selling in Hong Kong. ParknShop, Wellcome and some western
Supermarkets responded that they had not sold this kind of cheese.
The Standard, 13 June 2005: Little chance at rehab for inmates
- HK’s 13’000 inmate should be experiencing productive
ways to reintroduce them into society, but currently only a fraction
are in these programs, says Tobias Brandner, a 40-year-old priest
SCMP, 14 June 2005: Swiss timing - In a bid to promote the
region, HK’s arts archive is taking the unusual step of setting
up shop at an international arts festival. At the Art Basel show
in Switzerland, the executive director of Asia Art Archive (AAA)
and her colleagues will promote the art they collect and document.
Apple Daily, 20 June 2005: Global Happiness Database - A
Dutch professor has conducted a research about “Global Happiness
Database“ which covers 67 nations. Swiss people are the happiest
whereas Japanese and Chinese rank 27th and 34th respectively. According
to this professor, a happy nation is often rich, free, democratic,
forgiving and good in governance. Switzerland is one of the most
democratic countries in the world.
SCMP, 24 June 2005: UBS is planning to hold a stake about
$500 Mio in the Bank of China, which will be listed with capitalisation
about US$ 3-4 billion in early 2006, according to a source from
the stock market.
Hinge Magazine, Vol. 118: Swiss architecture - Cover story
“Swiss treats… How can such a small country produce
such “big” architecture?” by Colette Raffaele
and Cedric Schärer (EPFL). A lecture and exhibition titled
“A Matter of Art. Contemporary Architecture in Switzerland”,
held in HK in March, provided the impetus for hinge to dedicate
this issue to explore the Swiss contribution to the built environment.
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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