CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
Special : Economic
(English/French, pdf, 17 p., 133 kb)
Hong Kong has a new Chief of Administration. Yuan revaluation sets
stage for boom in HK.
Tsang sent condolences to Britain: Chief Executive Donald
Tsang Yam-kuen expressed his condolences for victims of the London
bombings, saying he was deeply shocked and saddened by the attacks.
New chief of administration: Raphael Hui, a veteran civil servant
and former Secretary for Financial Services has been appointed as
Chief Secretary to the HK government. The new No. 2 of HK is known
to be close to the chief executive and to business circles. In his
first press interview he said his main tasks would be electoral
reforms for the 2007-2008 elections, resolving the West Kowloon
controversy and finding new blood for HK politics.
Weak attendance at July 1st march: Only 21'000 (barely
4% of 2003 500'000) participated in the traditional protest
march prompting Beijing to say that the event had lost its popularity.
Democracy and universal suffrage were just two items on the marchers'
growing wish list which also included labour and gay rights. With
the resignation of Tung, the shelving of Article 23 and an economy
on the rebound most highly contentious issues have faded. Pro-Beijing
organizations also staged a morning parade with also about 30'000
people clanging cymbals and singing patriotic songs to mark the
handover. One newspaper ironically mentioned that on the same day
that more than 200'000 people went to see an exhibit featuring
dinosaurs in a shopping mall.
Colonial era comes back into fashion: There are several signs
that HK is coming to terms with its colonial heritage. Its new leader
with his bow tie, British knighthood and decades of service for
the colonial power provides a very personal connection with the
past. He has also decided to live in Government House, the former
residence of British governors.
Legco seeks rethink of arts hub project: A Legco subcommittee
issued its first report on the West Kowloon Cultural Hub stating
Exco and Legco had been bypassed on the issue and asking the government
to scrap the single developer approach and to make extensive consultations
of the public. The handling of the cultural hub is seen as a test
of Tsang's election pledges to pursue a more inclusive style
Pressure grows to clip ICAC powers: An Independent Commission
Against Corruption (ICAC) bribery case came to a spectacular end
when a judge declared that the agency had illegally taped privileged
legal conversations between a suspect and his lawyer in a manner
that was a degradation of the justice system. This recent collapse
has sharpened decade's long calls to curb ICAC's sweeping
powers especially its ability to conduct covert surveillance without
court permission. It was followed by the sudden resignation of a
top official prompting rumours about orders from Beijing to rein
in the powerful agency and about the three “dirty” jobs
the central government supposedly has asked Donald Tsang to perform
as test of loyalty: curbing the powers of ICAC, keeping a closer
watch on political dissent by re-establishing the police special
branch and limiting Radio Television Hong Kong's (RTHK) autonomy.
The chief executive quickly dismissed these allegations as nonsense.
However, as stated in one editorial, many Hongkongers consider the
ICAC along with RTHK, another beleaguered public body, the conscience
of society. Any cloud over its name and future should be promptly
Union gets political: The HK Federation of Trade Unions,
biggest Beijing backed trade union, which has four legislators,
plans to form a new political labour party to defend the rights
of those who are deprived.
Top court clears way for autumn Link sale: The government's
privatization of $30 billion in housing estates shops and car parks
can finally proceed after the Court of Final Appeal rejected a legal
challenge to the Link Reit's listing. A public housing tenant
had argued that the sale violated the authority's statutory
duty towards tenants. Some fear the consequences of the eight months
delay on the sale price. Observers have stressed that the privatization
policy was sound but its execution by the administration flawed
especially by pressures on courts in order to keep the listing on
schedule. It ended in the suspension of the process which has been
acknowledged as one of the elements having contributed to the former
chief executive's decision to resign.
WTO's logistical and security concerns: An interministerial
high level committee chaired by the Chief Secretary was formed to
coordinate actions by the various departments involved in the preparation
of the December WTO conference. More than 10'000 protesters, 6'000
delegates, 3'000 media representatives and 2'000 NGO's representatives
Hui to head planning for WTO date: Chief Secretary Rafael
Hui Si-yan will head a committee of top government officials to
plan and co-ordinate preparations for the World Trade Organisation's
ministerial meeting in December.
Visit of José Manuel Barroso: The President of the
European Commission paid a visit to HK.
Pan-Pearl River Delta (PPRD): (grouping of Guangdong, Fujian,
Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan and Hainan, HK
and Macau or named 9+2) at a co-operation and Development Forum:
Chief Executive Donald Tsang urged fellow leaders in the PPRD region
to avoid duplicating infrastructure projects which would cause unnecessary
competition and waste of resources. As well as calling for a speeding
up of transport projects and cross-border projects such as the bridge
to link HK, Macau and Zhuhai, he called for the sweeping away of
trade barriers and for wider use of HK as a financial centre. More
than HK$ 30 billion had been raised by mainland companies in HK
in 2004, compared with HK$ 50 billion between 1993 - 2004.
Legal Affairs and human rights
Court of Final Appeal’s guidelines on public protests:
The highest court in HK has issued some details on the protest banning
legal mechanism. Marches can be banned or restricted if the police
consider it necessary for reasons of national security or public
order but protests are only to be interfered with when it is absolutely
necessary. The court stressed the importance attached to the right
to protest peacefully because demonstrations are closely linked
to the freedom of expression and help resolve conflicts and tensions
in the community.
Vigil marks erosion of press freedom: Pro-democracy legislators
staged a candle light vigil to protest the slow erosion of press
freedom in HK after the recent sacking of a popular commercial radio
host. They also protested against the chief executive’s remark
that public radio should spend more time explaining government policies.
One of the participants, a member of the Art. 45 Concern Group said:
“Press freedom is the remaining pillar of our free society
as we do not have an elected government. We cannot afford to lose
HK should have its own asylum policy says UN official: Janet
Lim, UNHCR Director for Asia and the Pacific, urged HK to establish
policies and procedures to deal with asylum seekers. Today immigration
officers direct asylum seekers to the UNHCR office for refugee status
determination, not satisfactory. There are currently 725 asylum
seekers in HK and 105 recognized refugees awaiting resettlement
Yuan revalued 2.1pc, Beijing’s move a mixed bag for HK:
The HK$’s link to the US dollar will not be dropped, despite
Beijing’s scrapping of the Yuan’s peg to the American
currency. Three refinements to HK’s 21-year peg announced
in May, allow the local currency to trade within a band. Acting
Financial Secretary Stephen Ip Shu-kwan pointed out that the revaluation
was likely to bring benefits to the local economy, as mainland holidaymakers
and businessmen visiting HK would automatically see their purchasing
power in the city rise by 2.1%. It would provide greater incentive
for mainlanders to spend in the city, which would be a relief for
job seekers. HK General Chamber of Commerce chief executive Eden
Woon Yi-teng said local companies selling services through the closer
Economic Partnership Arrangement would enjoy more competitive prices,
but warned of an import inflation risk as items entering HK from
the mainland would be more expensive. The HK Trade Department Council
viewed that the stronger Yuan would boost consumer price by a mild
0,270. According to an expert rising import prices would affect
Double taxation treaty in negotiation with the mainland:
HK is seeking a comprehensive double taxation treaty with the mainland
that will reduce the tax burden for many companies, but could also
open the way for both governments to share tax data.
HK moves to boost maritime trade: The Government wants to
lower port charges and build five new anchorages near Lantau Island
to boost maritime trade in HK, which is losing out to competitors
in the region. HK lost its place as the world’s busiest container
port to Singapore in the first quarter this year.
Foreign Direct Investments: The Census and Statistics Department
reported Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) inflows of HK$93.3 billion
(US$12 billion) during the first quarter of 2005. The preliminary
total FDI for all of 2004 is HK$265.1 billion (US$34 billion). The
facilitation policy of the Ministry of Commerce, Beijing for Mainland
enterprises to invest in HK has encouraged these companies to use
HK as the preferred base from which to expand overseas. According
to the Ministry of Commerce Beijing, in the first quarter of 2005
a total of 55 Mainland enterprises were granted approval for coming
to invest in HK, involving an investment amount of HK$2.18 billion
(US$280 million). On the other hand, InvestHK conducted a survey
out of their 144 completed investment projects in the first half
of 2005 and found that HK's attractiveness to foreign investors
was further strengthened with the implementation of the second phase
of CEPA in 2005.
The Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council (BC) on HK/Guangdong
co-operation: BC said competition between economic zones was
likely to prevail. The integration between HK and Guangdong has
been mutually rewarding and reinforcing. HK-Guangdong partnership
has developed beyond the sphere of manufacturing for export. The
scope of co-operation covers economic and trade linkage, people
and cargo flow, infrastructure, environmental protection, technology,
education, tourism, culture, sports and other aspects.
External Merchandise Trade Statistics: For the first half
of 2005, the value of total exports of goods rose by 11.6% to HK$
1,034 billion over the same period in 2004. Concurrently the value
of imports of goods increased by 9.1% to HK$ 1,085 billion.
Qinghai bird flu cases controversy: A controversy has started
about the supposed leak of state secrets by HK researcher during
a recent investigation of avian flu outburst in Qinghai. The Mainland
has tightened its regulations governing the release of data on bird
flu. According to an editorial it is understood that a HK Professor
was warned by officials from the Mainland's Ministry of Agriculture
(MOA) he could be leacking state secrets by conducting research
on the H5N1 outbreak among wild birds at the ecologically sensitive
Qinghai Lake “without prior approval” from authorities.
The release of his studies, made in collaboration with other professors
from HK and from the Mainland, in the internationally respected
Nature and Science journals did not go well down with the MOA officials.
HK's fight against bird flu achieves “perfect results”:
Strategy should serve as model for rest of Asia, say experts. HK's
bird flu strategy is being held up as a model for the rest of Asia.
The city's tough measures to combat the spread of H5N1 will be a
key plank in an international blueprint being unveiled for halting
its advance through East Asia.
HK’s beaches being swamped by a tide rubbish: An investigation
is under way to identify the source of the pollution.
HK to host Olympic equestrian events: International Olympic
Committee decided to move the Equestrian events for the 2008 Beijing
Olympic Games to HK due to uncertainties with equine diseases and
difficulties in establishing a disease-free zone in Beijing. HK
Jockey Club would spend HK$700-800 million to build the needed facilities
and it was estimated the events would generate HK$100-300 million
for the economy, mainly from tourists.
Macau on UNESCO World Heritage List: It is the only site
nominated by China in 2005.
Press articles related to Switzerland
Switzerland no longer tax haven for stashed fortunes, South China
Morning Post (SCMP), 1 July 2005. From today, banks in Switzerland
– which is not a member of the European Union – will
begin taxing their savings accounts on behalf of their governments,
implementing an accord that Bern and Brussels reached after years
Envoys for Dalai Lama hold talks in Switzerland, South China
Morning Post (SCMP), 2 July 2005. Envoys of the Dalai Lama and
Chinese representatives ended two days of negotiations in Switzerland
yesterday in their first meeting outside the mainland, the Dalai
Lama office said.
South China Morning Post (SCMP), 27 July 2005: Johanna Spyri’s
tale of Heidi has been brought to life 100 years after the author’s
death: Heidi, as brochures proclaim, is Switzerland’s most
famous girl, and she comes alive in Maienfeld, where Spyri set her
most famous book translated in more than 50 languages. Heidiland
was opened in the early 1990s.
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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