CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
Economy + Finance
HK solid enough to cope with volatile capital flow after US rate rise: Financial Secretary John Tsang says it is hard to predict how the recent Fed's decision to raise the US interest rate will affect HK, but the city's financial system is solid enough to overcome any volatile capital flow. Tsang says HK, which is vulnerable to overseas economic situations, should closely monitor whether asset prices are volatile and, if so, whether this will hurt appetite for shopping and investment. He cited that HK saw mixed reactions to three rounds of interest rate increases in 1994-1995; 1999-2000 and 2004-2006.
HK jewellery and luxury goods sales hit hard as number of tourists visiting city drops again: HK's jewellery sales took another pummelling in October, with double-digit declines amid a grim outlook for year-end local business. Luxury goods sellers again performed worst among retailers, as fewer big-spending mainland visitors came to the city. Retail sales in October amounted to HK$37.2 billion - a 3 per cent decline year on year - after a fall of 6.3 per cent in September, the Census and Statistics Department reported. Visitor arrivals in October fell
2.7 per cent year on year to about five million, after a decline of 4 per cent in September.
Local labour market suffers as HK private sector keeps struggling, key market indicator finds: The continued decline in the private sector has taken its toll on the labour market, a survey of business activity in HK showed. Companies cut back sharply on their purchasing activities last month because of falling output and new orders, keeping the Nikkei HK Purchasing Managers' Index below the no-change 50.0 mark at 46.6 in November. The survey found there was a steep decline in new business from the mainland and that private companies continued to lower their payroll numbers last month. It noted the rate of job cuts remained moderate.
IMF forecasts HK market troubles in the wake of US interest rate hike: Local exporters and retailers are bracing for a further drop in consumer demand ahead of an imminent interest rate hike in the United States. The gloomy outlook comes as the International Monetary Fund forecast tough market conditions for HK in the coming months. The IMF expected HK's economy to grow about 2.25 per cent this year. Growth was expected to pick up to 2.5 per cent next year, with a lower drag from foreign demand projected to reinforce resilient domestic demand.
HK exports set to be flat next year, says trade body: HK's exports will be flat in value next year after falling 1.5 per cent this year amid global economic woes, the Trade Development Council has forecast. It is the first time the trade body has predicted stagnant export performance since the financial crisis in 2009. The strong US dollar had dented the competitiveness of HK's exports, said council director of research Nicholas Kwan. Kwan said recent fluctuations in global trade were expected to stabilise gradually, as the United States and some Asian countries were on track for moderate growth next year.
President Xi issues assurance on 'one country, two systems' in meeting with chief executive as landmark seating switch raises questions: President Xi Jinping pledged to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle while acknowledging recent controversies over the unique formula for governing HK as he met the city's leader CY Leung in Beijing – but an unprecedented seating change made it clearer than ever that one country comes before two systems. In their separate talks with Leung, Xi and Premier Li Keqiang were seated at the head of a long conference table, with Leung placed at one side. The new arrangement stood in stark contrast to previous protocol under which the chief executive would always sit side by side with state leaders, giving the impression of equal footing. Leung himself later acknowledged the significance of the changed seating arrangement, saying it “reflects the constitutional position of HK and the central authorities”.
HK must stop turning inwards and being dragged down by politicking, high-powered forum hears: HK should stop turning inwards and being dragged down by politicking, a slate of international and local business leaders advised as they called on young people not to forsake the mainland. At a forum hosted by Our Hong Kong Foundation, a think tank founded by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, Tung called on the city's youth to participate actively to back the country's rise and benefit from it.
Filibustering over copyright bill marks final HK legislative session of the year: Filibustering against the contentious copyright bill continued at the last legislative session of the calendar year. The Legislative Council's session continued to address Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho's motion to adjourn discussion of the bill dubbed 'Internet Article 23' by critics on fears it would curtail internet freedoms. Legco is due to resume consideration of the bill on January 4.
US consulate urges HK to update its copyright law to 'foster creativity: The US consulate called for “active engagement” to modernise HK's intellectual property laws. Pan-democrats proposed three amendments to the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 – fair use, user-generated content and contract override. Consulate spokeswoman Darragh Paradiso said the laws should better reflect the digital media environment. The HK Copyright Alliance also held its rescheduled press conference to oppose the three proposed amendments. The Alliance said that the three amendments would render the law “completely useless” and unable to protect copyrighted work.
The bright side of localism: Financial Secretary John Tsang has put a positive spin on the rise of localism in HK, citing its potential to become a “strong and constructive force” that binds society together, rather than looking at it as a destructive trend. The unexpected remarks published on his blog were in stark contrast to the confrontational approach of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who slammed localist protests against mainland visitors and attacked student leaders for discussing self-determination for the city. Tsang's line also contrasted sharply with Beijing's preference for nationalism over localism, but he stopped short of addressing the anti- mainland, pro-independence trend among the youth which has particularly alarmed both the local and central governments.
HK journalists group blasts police and education minister over news reporters' arrest: The Journalists Association submitted a letter to the police chief to protest the force's arrest of two journalists who were chasing after the education minister. The Apple Daily reporters were detained by the police for more than 90 minutes on suspicion of loitering, even though they produced press cards to officers. Officers also rejected their offer to call their boss to verify their identities on the spot. Association chairwoman Sham Yee-lan said she did not remember any precedent of reporters being arrested when chasing public figures at public occasions. “Our biggest worry is that this practice will become normal in the future,” said Sham. She said such practice would effectively end their assigned tasks and prevent them from carrying out their watchdog duty.
Former activist Alvin Yeung to run in Legislative Council by-election: Activist-turned-barrister Alvin Yeung, also a senior member of the opposition Civic Party, is to represent the pan-democrat camp in next February's Legislative Council by-election. “Although it is a by-election, it is an important battle we can't afford to lose. We want to tell Beijing that we do not accept [Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying,” said Yeung. The February 28 by- election was triggered by the resignation of Yeung's mentor, Ronny Tong, in the wake of summer's failed political reform package. Tong also quit the Civic Party.
HK religious leaders use Christmas messages to urge end to city's political conflicts: An end to the city's political conflicts and divisions was the shared call of the city's Roman Catholic bishop John Tong and Anglican archbishop Paul Kwong in their Christmas messages this year. “Our city has been divided and fragmented after the Occupy movement and the dispute over political reform last year…. When dealing with people and social issues, we begin to see the more frequent use of violent language and behaviour rather than mutual trust, tolerance, objectivity and rationality,” read Kwong's statement.
HK lawmakers who failed to disclose donations from media tycoon cleared of wrongdoing: Two pan- democratic lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung and Lee Cheuk-yan did not breach the Legislative Council's (Legco) rules on political donations when they failed to disclose HK$2 million they received from media tycoon Jimmy Lai, a committee has ruled. The Committee on Members' Interests concluded that Lee and Leung, who accepted HK$1.5 million and HK$500,000 from Lai respectively, received the sums only on their behalf of their parties rather than in the capacity as legislators. Therefore their failure to register the donation record with Legco were not an issue, it ruled.
New HK Labour Party leader urges equality for women in politics and better policies for caregivers: The HK government should put forward policies to alleviate the caregiving burden placed on women's shoulders for years, according to the Labour Party's newly-elected chairwoman Suzanne Wu as she vowed to advocate gender equality in the city's political participation. Wu said she would not rule out running for a seat in the Legislative Council if the party found her a suitable candidate. But she added that she was more interested in strengthening her party's cohesion during her two-year tenure as its leader.
Legal affairs and human rights
HK justice minister dismisses fears mainland China laws to be annexed over high-speed rail link: The justice chief Rimsky Yuen said allowing mainland immigration officers to exercise their duties at the city's planned express rail terminus to Guangzhou would not set a bad precedent of introducing mainland laws, and he pledged not to breach the Basic Law. Pan-democratic lawmakers slammed the justice chief for in their view burying judicial independence over the delayed 26-km railway, and they voiced fears that national security laws would be ushered in. Yuen said the fears were unfounded and unnecessary. He said the proposed annexation would not set a bad precedent as the Basic Law stated clearly what mainland laws could be brought to the territory.
Judicial reviews fundamental to rule of law in HK, says former top judge Andrew Li: HK's first chief justice after the 1997 handover, Andrew Li, has defended the rising number of judicial reviews taking up officials' time as a positive outcome of good governance, pointing out that justice and convenience were "sometimes not on speaking terms". In a robust defence of the judicial reviews that may inconvenience the authorities, he emphasised that the courts had an effective mechanism to stop any attempt to abuse the process. His remarks
came two weeks after retired judge of the Court of Final Appeal Henry Litton hit out at what he described as the abuse of judicial reviews.
New Competition Ordinance seeks to impose a level playing field for smaller HK firms: HK, a world city and top destination for initial public offerings, for a long time lagged behind more than 100 jurisdictions in introducing a legal regime for competition. Though it is not a criminal offence, sanctions for breaches include fines of up to 10 per cent of HK turnover for up to three years for any infringement. Directors can also be disqualified for up to five years. Competition Commission chairwoman Anna Wu said the law applied to all businesses - big and small.
Relations HK - Mainland China
Legco rejects anti-mainlandization motion: The home affairs minister has warned against “seeing different cultures with a narrow perspective”, as lawmakers voted down a motion calling for the government to defend HK's way of life from “the mainland's influence”. The motion on “Safeguard HK from Mainlandization” was tabled by Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo. As the motion was tabled, the Beijing-loyalist camp countered that the pan- democrats were merely rejecting the central government's sovereignty over HK. The motion was voted down, with 19 in favour and 34 opposing it.
Report shows 879,000 HK residents now from mainland China: A new report to the HK legislature revealed that about 879,000 immigrants from the mainland have settled in the city since the 1997 handover, comprising 12 per cent of the city's population of 7.3 million. Those who stayed in HK for seven years through the one-way permit scheme were then eligible to apply for permanent residency and able to utilise the city's social welfare system.
Online food trade in HK set for new guidelines following food scandals: Online food traders will be required to display licences on their websites and ensure the proper temperature during delivery, under new guidelines that are seen as a reaction to several food scandals this year. Health secretary Dr Ko Wing-man told the Legislative Council the measures will come into force in the first quarter of next year. While the measures will cover all licences issued from early next year onwards, they will also be applied to existing licences when they come up for renewal. Professor Terence Lau, a food safety expert from Polytechnic University, said the move offered greater protection to the public.
Deadly Mers virus outbreak in South Korea came from Saudi Arabian camels, says HK University research team: The infection source of the coronavirus behind the recent deadly outbreak in South Korea has been traced back to one-humped camels in Saudi Arabia after a research team led by the University of HK found the animals to be infected by three strains of the virus at the same time. The researchers hope the transmission chain of the virus can be broken and the threat to public health reduced by effective surveillance and control measures.
Climate deal 'progressive', says HK's environment chief, but greens want more action: The environment secretary Wong Kam-sing welcomed the new climate deal struck among nations to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius as “progressive” and a “historic turning point”, but local green groups say the city needs more long-term action in line with what the rest of the world is working towards. Wong said HK would continue to meet its target to reduce carbon intensity by 50 to 60 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Greenpeace East Asia said that as HK was an international city, the government was responsible for developing more aggressive and longer-term responses to climate change beyond 2020.
HK's first green bus hits the road in government scheme to improve air quality: The city's first electric bus in a government initiative to improve air quality made its maiden journey across HK Island, with four more expected to start running within a fortnight. Its two-year trial run is part of the government's HK$180 million scheme to improve air quality by subsidising five franchised bus companies to purchase 36 electric buses and related charging facilities for trial runs on different routes.
HK government can't meet food waste target at new plant: Officials admitted that the government could provide a waste treatment plant in North Lantau with only half the amount of food waste they had earlier estimated. Vivian Lau, director of Food and Environmental Hygiene, said her department would be able to provide only about 40 tonnes of food waste (original target 86 tonnes of food waste) from 36 wet markets every day to the plant due to limited resources. “Sorting, collecting and transferring the food waste all involve new resources,” she said.
Culture and Education
HK principals slam education bureau for telling schools to stop drilling to prepare for Territory-wide System Assessment TSA exam: Two associations of primary school principals jointly issued a strongly-worded statement against the Education Bureau's latest call for no drilling on the city-wide assessment exams. They also renewed their calls for suspending the upcoming assessments for Primary Three pupils next June, and for Secretary for Education Eddie Ng to meet and discuss the issue with schools directly.
Alibaba buys South China Morning Post Group's media business, pledges to uphold editorial independence and remove paywall: Alibaba Group, China's e-commerce giant, has bought the South China Morning Post and all other media assets from the SCMP Group, and has pledged to uphold editorial independence and to invest to strengthen the quality of the content. First published on November 6 1903, the SCMP is one of the leading English-language newspapers in Asia.
Howls of protest as Arthur Li is appointed HK University's governing council chairman: Former education minister Arthur Li has been appointed as the new chairman of the University of HK's governing council, despite strong opposition from the student union, some staff and alumni groups. Li, a divisive figure dubbed “King Arthur” by critics who find him abrasive and high handed, will start a three-year term from January 1.
Macau to extend land and sea administrative area: Macau will have a larger land and sea territory after the central government approved a new draft of a demarcation of its administrative domain. Under the plan approved by the State Council, the territorial waters of the former Portuguese enclave will be extended eastwards and southwards by an area of 85 square kilometres. Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui said the new demarcation would allow for development of the city's waterfront area and plans to boost its maritime economy.
Lose-lose situation on HK pension options: Chief Secretary Carrie Lam launched a six-month public consultation exercise on the highly contentious issue, following up on work of the Commission on Poverty, which she headed. Both the labour and business sectors gave the thumbs-down to the consultation proposals, with Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan noting that very few people would benefit under the non-universal plan. Stanley Lau, honorary president of the Federation of HK Industries, was against both options in the consultation because of the tax implications.
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