June 30 - July 6, 2020
National security law explained
Welcoming the passage of the national security law, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said (Jun 30) the enactment of a national security law at the state level is both necessary and urgent in order to plug the loophole in national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The legislation is an important step to improve the “One Country, Two Systems” institutional system as well as restore stability in Hong Kong society as soon as possible. The Chief Executive pointed out that the law seeks to practically and effectively prevent, curb and punish four types of crimes seriously endangering national security, namely acts of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security. It only targets an extremely small minority of offenders while the life and property as well as various legitimate basic rights and freedoms enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of citizens will be protected.

Speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting ( Jun 30), Mrs Lam pointed out that the national security law upholds important legal principles such as presumption of innocence and protection of the rights of the suspect. She added that it will have no retrospective effect and will not affect Hong Kong’s renowned judicial independence.
During a press conference (Jul 1), Mrs Lam reassured t he media and the public that criticizing the national security law would not be considered a crime. “It is clearly stated in Article 4 that people of Hong Kong should be able to continue to enjoy the freedom of speech, freedom of press, of publication, protest, assembly and so on,” she said. Also speaking at the press conference, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng emphasized that when handling national security law cases, all prosecutorial decisions will be based on facts and evidence. Implementation rules for the national security law have already been gazetted and will take effect on Jul 7.
“One country, two systems” optimized
Celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR on July 1, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong is a turning point to take Hong Kong out of the current impasse and to restore stability and order from the chaos. Mrs Lam said the implementation of the National Anthem Ordinance and the National Security Law in Hong Kong signifies the fulfiment of the constitutional responsibility of the HKSAR to better the institution of “One Country, Two Systems”. Recognizing the challenges to lead Hong Kong out of the current political predicament and overcome the post-epidemic challenges, Mrs Lam urged the public to put aside differences and build a better future for Hong Kong. 
New US act opposed
The HKSAR Government expressed (Jul 3) strong opposition to the passage of the “Hong Kong Autonomy Act” by the US Congress. In a statement, the HKSAR Government said the proposed sanctions will only harm the relations and common interests between Hong Kong and the US. On Jul 6, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung, joined by Secretary for Security John Lee, met with US Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau Hanscom Smith on the national security law. A government spokesman pointed out that the legislation can promptly reverse the chaotic situation of the past year and restore stability in Hong Kong, thereby improving Hong Kong's business and investment environment . “Our much-valued institutional strengths and core competitiveness will remain intact. They include the rule of law and judicial independence, open and flexible markets, a simple and low tax regime, an efficient public sector and a favorable business environment with a level playing field,” the spokesman added.   
Judge designation explained
The designation of judges and the operation of the courts in Hong Kong in handling cases concerning the national security law must be subject to the requirements of the Basic Law, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma said (Jul 2). The designated judges will come from the existing ranks of the Judiciary. Designated judges, like all judges, are appointed on the basis of their judicial and professional qualities and not on the basis of any political considerations. Judges of foreign nationality are not excluded and that they are expressly permitted to be appointed as judges in Hong Kong under the Basic Law. He emphasized that independence of the judiciary and the rule of law are cornerstones of Hong Kong and it remains the mission and the constitutional duty of the judiciary to maintain and protect judicial independence and the rule of law.
FinTech talent program set up
The FinTech Anti-epidemic Scheme for Talent Development ( FAST Scheme ) opens for application from July 2. Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui said that the program will create 1,000 new jobs and enrich and support the development of Hong Kong’s fintech talent pool. Each successful applicant will receive US$1,282 per month as a salary subsidy for a maximum of 12 months. The total funding involved may amount to US$15.3 million.
Research talent hub launched
The Researcher Programme and the Postdoctoral Hub have been merged to become the Research Talent Hub , providing more flexibility for employers to engage and nurture more research talents. Each eligible company or organization can obtain funding support to engage up to four innovation and technology talents with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree to conduct R&D work, with maximum monthly allowances for each degree at US$2,307, US$2,692 and US$4,102 respectively. The maximum engagement period for each research talent is three years in general. 

Payment disbursed for 3.15 million people
The HKSAR Government has disbursed paymen t to 3.15 million people who registered electronically through banks on or before June 30 under the Cash Payout Scheme. The payments are made in batches. People who register electronically through banks on or after July 1 will receive payment about one week after registration. More information about the scheme can be found on its website . About 1,000 bank branches of 21 participating banks across the city are accepting electronic registration.
Social distancing measures relaxed
Hong Kong has further relaxed social distancing measures in relation catering businesses and scheduled premises, increasing the cap from 50% of the normal seating capacity to 80%. Limitations on group gatherings in public places are maintained at 50 people. These relaxed measures, which will be effective until July 16, are part of the suppress and lift strategy adopted by the HKSAR Government in striking a balance between public health protection, economic impact, social acceptance and maintaining disease prevention measures while allowing for the gradual resumption of social and economic activities.
  • The HKSAR Government recorded a deficit of US$5.7 billion in the month of May. Expenditure for the period April to May was US$11.6 billion and revenue at US$5.8 billion. Fiscal reserves stood at US$143 billion.

  • The value of total retail sales in May, provisionally estimated at US$3.4 billion, fell 32.8% year-on-year. 

Hong Kong and its Basic Law
The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the HKSAR. Put into effect on July 1, 1997, it enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems”. 

Q: Is Hong Kong an easy place to visit for tourists or international business people?
A: Yes, very much so. Hong Kong has autonomy in immigration control. It maintains its own immigration laws and procedures and has a very liberal visa policy. As of September 2018, 162 countries or territories have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to HKSAR passport holders. ( BL Articles 154; 155 )
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