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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 development.

Domestic politics
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 suffrage.
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 of governance.
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.

Transborder affairs
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 protection".
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 measures".
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 dengue.

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 the problem.
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 rejected.


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