CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
We've seldom had it so good: HK has seldom had it so good
- enjoying its best period of prosperity since the handover. That's
the view of visiting state leader Jia Qinglin as Beijing prepares
to give a further boost to its Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement
with the SAR. Jia also urged HK to continue focusing on economic
development to avoid being marginalized by the mainland's rapid
Yuan boost for Tsang poll bid: In the most positive sign
yet that Beijing approves the re-election of Chief Executive Donald
Tsang, a leading mainland official will announce a packet of concessionary
measures during a visit to HK. The measures to be announced by Chinese
People's Consultative Conference chairman and Politburo Standing
Committee member Jia Qinglin will include further liberalizing yuan
business in the SAR, a government source said. "With the economy
continuing to revive, Beijing's leaders believe that it is time
to indicate their decisive backing for Tsang's leadership for another
term. This is also an ostensible move to indicate Beijing is rejecting
rival contenders in the 2007 race."
No fast track for major legal reform: There will not be any
moves towards constitutional reform or national security legislation
in HK - at least not until the next chief executive takes office,
according to Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung. Mr Wong said the
government did not plan to bring back Article 23 legislation before
Chief Executive Donald Tsang's current term expired on June 30 next
year. Neither was the government planning any new proposals on universal
Pro-democrats urge big July 1 turnout: Despite the general
feelgood factor enveloping HK - thanks to a robust economy and better
governance than in the Tung Chee-hwa era - pro-democracy legislators
are still urging the public to show their determination to strive
for fully representative government by joining the annual July 1
rally. The Civil Human Rights Front is gearing up to stage a fourth
annual mass rally on the theme of full democracy on the ninth anniversary
of the handover.
Think-tank seeks role for public on policy issues: A think-tank
close to Chief Executive Donald Tsang will launch a study on public
participation in policy-making regarding arts and culture, environment,
planning, and social welfare. The study by the Bauhinia Foundation
Research Centre will examine how best to engage the public in the
policy-making process in these areas, in order to enhance the effectiveness
Anson Chan to march on July 1 in bid to boost numbers: Anson
Chan will be taking to the streets on July 1 to boost the spirits
of marchers in a pro-democracy rally that is being overshadowed
by an increasingly popular chief executive. Mrs Chan's announcement
came on the day Donald Tsang celebrated his first anniversary as
chief executive. "I have decided to march on July 1. I encourage
people from all levels of society, if they support democracy and
open elections, to join the march," she said. "I feel
this is not an easy road and that maybe there will be many difficulties
along the way. But as long as we are alive there is hope. There
is power in the masses."
Jia applauds `robust’ SAR: The leadership and governance
of Chief Executive Donald Tsang received glowing praise from Jia
Qinglin, the visiting head of China's top advisory body, who met
the SAR leader behind closed doors. Jia praised HK's progress, saying
he was pleased to see the territory was stable, prosperous and harmonious.
Appeal for universal suffrage: 25 lawmakers issued a joint
letter to visiting Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
chairman Jia Qinglin calling for the early introduction of universal
suffrage. They also disputed his claim HK was enjoying smooth governance
and prosperity under Donald Tsang. "Mr Jia should come and
see for himself that tens of thousands of people are still taking
to the street this Saturday," said Emily Lau of The Frontier.
Drive to develop HK as centre for education: A steering committee
led by Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan will be set up soon to
develop HK into a regional education hub. Secretary for Education
and Manpower Arthur Li said there was a need to promote the city's
education services to attract more non-local students to study and
remain in HK after graduating.
Anson raps critics on universal vote: Economic and democratic
development go hand in hand, former chief secretary Anson Chan said.
Chan also said that the HK government should deliver a timetable
for universal suffrage. Chan's remarks followed those of Jia Qinglin,
the visiting chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference, who said at a banquet in his honor that "HK can
retain its edge ... only if it focuses on economic development."
Most in HK are satisfied with Beijing: Public satisfaction
with the central government's policies towards HK has gone up more
than 50% since last year, a University of HK poll shows. The findings
come as thousands of demonstrators are expected to take to the streets
on July 1, 2006 to demand democracy and a fairer share of the benefits
of economic recovery, and thousands more to join a handover anniversary
parade. The survey, conducted annually since 1999, found 56% of
respondents viewed Beijing's policy positively, up 20 percentage
points from last year.
Legco agrees to set development strategy: A motion by lawmaker
Raymond Ho calling on the government to set out a strategy for HK's
long-term economic development, including cross-border infrastructure,
was passed by the Legislative Council. Mr Lam stressed the importance
of fostering closer links with the mainland, particularly in the
areas of "industry development, resource utilisation and environmental
Regional pact to fight health crises: HK, Guangdong and Macau
health officials have signed an agreement to co-ordinate emergency
responses to major public health crises in the region.
Legal affairs and human rights
Activists demand a better deal for women: The SAR does not
fully comply with a United Nations convention on discrimination
against women, according to activists. The HK Women's Coalition
on Equal Opportunities expressed their dissatisfaction with the
lack of compliance. Though HK has been a signatory to the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
since October 1996, the government has not complied with it, coalition
coordinator Chung Yuen-yi said. "Over the past 10 years, domestic
violence, poverty among women and discrimination towards women in
HK have still been notable."
Claim of political pressure on courts: Legislators expressed
concern about a State Council think-tank's study into how HK courts
handle Basic Law cases, saying it highlighted the mainland's lack
of understanding about the city's legal system. Democratic Party
lawmaker James To said the study appeared to put political pressure
on the courts by telling them, "I am watching you". But
the study's lead researcher, visiting fellow at Tsinghua University's
school of law Simon Lee, said the statistical analysis commissioned
by the HK and Macao Affairs Research Institute was purely "academic
driven". "I understand the sensitivity involved, but there
is nothing political behind the study," he said.
Delta boom a win for HK, says Tsang: HK stands to gain rather
than lose out as the government prepares to tackle challenges arising
from rapid economic development in the Pearl River Delta, the chief
executive says. While the city might suffer in areas such as logistics
and trade, Donald Tsang said its leading role in aviation and finance
remained strong. Mr Tsang believed HK and the mainland could complete
each other, as the two economies were fundamentally different.
Don't rely on traditional role, say economists: HK can no
longer rely on its traditional position as the world's gateway to
the mainland. Donald Lessard, of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology's Sloan School of Management, warned HK had already lost
its unique position as the only doorway to the mainland and would
now have to concentrate on niche markets of finance and infrastructure
rather than relying on its geographical position. He said HK "must
continue to play its Pearl River Delta card, but it needs to work
on developing certain activities".
Mainland port expansion growing threat to HK: Container terminals
in HK face ever-growing threats from across the border, as robust
port expansion on the mainland promises to spark a new round of
price wars and further blunt the city's edge in the contest for
price-sensitive sea cargoes, major logistics players say. Gone are
the rosy days when HK was China's only sea cargo gateway.
Riding the dragon: In an effort to tap the growing market
for flights to the mainland, Cathay Pacific Airways, HK’s
biggest carrier, announced in June that it would take control of
Dragonair, a key rival.
Massive gas field found off SAR: CNOOC - China's largest
offshore oil producer - and its partner, Li Ka-shing's Husky Energy,
said they have discovered a deepwater gas field 250 kilometers off
HK that analysts estimate to be worth as much as US$1.6 billion.
Jobless rate drops to five-year low: HK's unemployment rate
fell to 4.9% in May, the lowest level in nearly five years as the
city's job market continued to benefit from strong growth in consumer
demand and exports.
HK service sector to gain more from Cepa: HK services companies
are in line for more preferential access to the mainland under the
Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa). Raymond Young, director-general
of trade and industry, said mainland and HK officials were close
to reaching agreement on lifting more of the restrictions on entry
to the mainland market for HK's services companies. "Service
sectors such as legal, audiovisual services, telecommunications,
tourism and construction will benefit from the new market liberalisation
IPO market tipped to defy fears, grow 45%: HK's initial public offering
market, given a boost by this month's HK$86.7 billion Bank of China
IPO, could grow 45% this year in spite of recent concerns over rising
interest rates and market volatility, Ernst & Young said. The
HK market, where the total raised through IPOs surged 70 percent
in 2005 to HK$166 billion, accounted for 13% of the year's total
global IPO proceeds, and the amount raised could grow to HK$240
billion in 2006, according to Ernst & Young.
High rents help tip inflation over 2%, highest since 1998:
Higher rents for private housing and the rising cost of dining out
have contributed to inflation topping 2% for the first time in almost
eight years, the government says. Moderate inflation is likely to
be sustained this year as the labour market improved and domestic
consumption drove up prices.
Cepa boost for lawyers and travel agencies: Beijing has granted
HK firms fresh operating concessions in the mainland market under
the latest stage of Cepa, with lawyers and travel agents the biggest
winners. Announcing the measures to give HK service companies the
jump on foreign competitors, Jia Qinglin, chairman of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference, promised more steps
in the years to come to facilitate economic co-operation between
the mainland, HK and Macau. The 15 market-access measures, benefiting
companies in 10 sectors, take effect in January. Jia Qinglin has
disappointed city bankers as he failed to deliver new and concrete
yuan-related businesses for local banks.
Chicken is banned as bird flu confirmed: HK has banned mainland
chicken imports, following Beijing's confirmation that a 31-year-old
man in Shenzhen is critically ill with H5N1 flu. The three-week
ban will end daily imports of about 20,000 chickens from Guangdong
farms as well as day-old chicks and other birds.
Health chief worried about Shenzhen bird-flu incident: The
latest human bird-flu case in Shenzhen was particularly worrying,
the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food warned. "We have
a suspicion, but we have not confirmed it yet, that the virus might
have become more virulent and more widespread than we had expected,"
said York Chow Yat-ngok, speaking on the first day of the latest
ban on imports of live poultry from Guangdong.
Measures stepped up over dengue fever: Mosquito-control work
will increase from once to three times a week in parks in dengue-alert
districts during the rainy season, the Leisure and Cultural Services
Department said after a city-wide anti-mosquito operation. A dengue
alert was issued two weeks ago for Tsing Yi and Fanling after the
districts' ovitrap index reached 36.5% and 26%, respectively. The
ovitraps catch the Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which transmit
Rush to be green not just about environment: HK investors
are set to invest more in environmental businesses, either through
shares in listed companies or in trendy "green" pension
funds. Suddenly, many HK-listed companies are going green by investing
heavily in environmental projects in the city and the mainland,
aiming to cash in on the governments' focus and incentives to curb
worsening pollution. The launching of the city's first green pension
fund, which invests in companies with good financial performance
and strong environment interest, spiced up the green frenzy.
Sustainability - it's your move: Across the border in Shenzhen
and Dongguan, several HK manufacturers are struggling to retrofit
their plants to meet a deadline for safe and clean production. If
they fail, they face closure or relocation orders under a policy
aimed at industrial sustainability. In HK, Secretary for the Environment,
Transport and Works Sarah Liao is also racing against time to meet
emission reduction targets by 2010 under a deal with Guangdong.
US joins China to combat “alarming” air pollution:
Tackling air pollution in HK and China has been elevated to the
bilateral level involving cooperation between the US and Chinese
governments with the aid of the Asian Development Bank. "HK's
air pollution is increasingly the topic of international as well
as local comment," US Consul General James B Cunningham said,
citing the CNN recent report that "pollution from coal-burning
plants in China is now reaching the West Coast of the US."
Price put on HK's pollution: $2b a year, 1,600 lives: Air
pollution is costing HK over 1,600 lives and at least $2 billion
a year. Including intangible costs, the losses are over $20 billion.
The research by experts from three HK universities and a public
policy think-tank also found that the city could each year save
up to 64,000 bed days in hospital and 6.8 million visits to family
doctors if it improved its air quality from "average"
to "good". It ranked HK's air-quality standards below
those of Paris, New York, London and Los Angeles and said the city's
concentration of air pollutants exceeded World Health Organisation
standards by 200%.
Guangdong power sales blamed for bad HK air: HK's air would
be much cleaner if its power companies stopped selling electricity
to Guangdong: Environmental Protection Department assistant director
Tse Chin-wan said sulfur dioxide emissions - a major source of air
pollution in HK - could be reduced by as much as 13% if production
of the extra power was stopped. Mr Tse added HK's power plants were
major contributors to air pollution and urged them to cut emissions.
Expats are paid extra because of smog: HK-based firms are
paying hardship allowances to attract top overseas talent due to
worsening air pollution - with one executive recently requesting
an extra $580,000 to make the move, headhunting agencies and human
resources experts say.
Long money-laundering fight ahead, warns US: Macau still
has far to go in its fight against money laundering, the US State
Department said in a report to Congress. The 2006 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report urges Macau to pass and implement
the anti-money laundering and counterterrorism bills submitted to
the Legislative Assembly last fall after years of drafting.
Macau SAR scores well in corruption survey: Macau is among
the cleanest places in the region according to the annual "Corruption
in Asia" survey by HK research firm Political & Economic
Risk Consultancy. Macau ranked fourth among the 13 areas covered
by this year's survey, the first to include Macau.
Stress city makes us a miserable bunch of lovers, reveals survey:
HK may be Asia's World City - but not when it comes to romance,
it seems. Overworked, overstressed or perhaps just plain dull HKers
are not only among the world's least frequent lovers, but some of
its most miserable ones too, a global survey showed.
Widening wealth gap raises questions: More than 182,000 HK
families earn less than HK$4,000 a month despite the improving economy,
the financial secretary has told the Legislative Council. Legislators
are worried the gap between rich and poor is widening in the territory,
and are dissatisfied with the direction of Financial Secretary Henry
Tang, who also heads a government panel on poverty, on alleviating
Little proof Falun Gong scares off tourists: The new accusations
- which come days ahead of the pro-democracy march on July 1 - are
being used to renew calls for the implementation of anti-sedition
legislation under Basic Law Article 23. However, travel industry
sources say the claims are an exaggeration. Wang Fengchao, a deputy
director of the central government's liaison office in HK, said
last week the "evil cult" was ruining HK's "prosperity
and harmony" by harassing tourists.
Poll confirms life is costly for HK expats: HK has jumped
five places, to fourth, in an annual survey of the world's most
expensive cities for expatriates, edging out cities including London,
Geneva and New York.
Press articles related to Switzerland
Swiss battle-ready after tough grind (The Standard, 5.6.2006):
Switzerland coach Kobi Kuhn declared himself highly satisfied with
his team's progress after a demanding eight-day warm-up for its
World Cup campaign. Kuhn's young squad, the third youngest overall
at the finals, beat China 4-1 after 1-1 draws with fellow World
Cup contenders Ivory Coast and Italy. "I'm very happy with
what I've seen," Kuhn said.
Schindler sorry for lift death (The Standard, 13.6.2006):
Swiss elevator giant Schindler has apologized but defended its record
after an accident that killed a teenage boy triggered fierce criticism
in Japan. Roland Hess, president of Schindler's escalator and elevator
division, flew into Tokyo and offered a bow of apology to a press
conference broadcast on national networks.
Tears give way to hope after fall of young guns (The Standard,
28.6.2006): Swiss dreams of World Cup glory turned to tears
on the morning after Switzerland's second-round exit against Ukraine.
Instead of the expected concert of horns, cowbells and noisy street
celebrations, the night passed off with an eerie silence in Geneva
as fans bedecked in red and white quietly headed home.
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