May 19 - 26, 2020
Hong Kong to remain a free city
National security legislation for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is essential and will also be conducive to the city’s business environment . In an exclusive media interview (May 25), Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said the legislation would ensure a safer and more stable business environment for international investors, adding that general business activity would not be affected. He stated that Hong Kong will remain the same place that upholds the rule of law, freedom, and remain the most competitive and the freest market. In his latest blog article (May 24), Financial Secretary Paul Chan also said that a safe society and political stability are prerequisites for an international financial center. Enactment of the national security law could provide the necessary protection in these aspects and would not affect the normal flow of people, goods, information and capital. “In fact, other international financial centers around the world are protected by their own national security law, and their development has not been affected by the law,” the Financial Secretary said.

Supporting the National People’s Congress’ (NPC) deliberation of the decision to establish and improve at the national level the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the fundamental objective is to safeguard national security and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, which will not affect the legitimate rights and freedoms enjoyed by local residents under the law, or the independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, exercised by the Judiciary in Hong Kong.
Social distancing measures relaxed
With the COVID-19 situation stabilizing in Hong Kong, the HKSAR Government has started to relax anti-epidemic measures in a moderate and phased manner since early May. Transit flight services at Hong Kong International Airport, which were suspended since March 25, will resume from June 1. Separately, starting May 29, bathhouses, party rooms, clubs or nightclubs and karaoke establishments can resume operation. Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the HKSAR Government will continue to maintain its anti-epidemic efforts , focusing on stepping up viral testing, adopting a multi-pronged approach to increase masks supply, supporting business and individuals affected by the epidemic, and continuing to adjust border control and social distancing measures.
Government to receive locally-made masks
The production lines under the Local Mask Production Subsidy Scheme will start supplying masks to the HKSAR Government starting from late May. The Government has signed funding agreements of 19 production lines, and nine of them have obtained certification verifying that the masks produced comply with the ASTM F2100 Level 1 standard or above. It is estimated that when all the 20 subsidized production lines are in full production, they will collectively supply 34.25 million masks to the Government and a further 7.65 million to the local market.
Hong Kong’s resilience will prevail
Acknowledging the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Hong Kong’s economy, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said Hong Kong has adopted an expansionary fiscal stance and have made the optimal use of its reserves to implement counter-cyclical measures. Speaking at a business conference, Mr Chan highlighted the US$37 billion worth of relief measures that have been rolled out to support enterprises, safeguard jobs and relieve financial burden of residents. Pointing out that the city’s institutional strengths and underlying fundamentals and competitiveness remain strong and intact amid these challenges, the Financial Secretary remains confident in Hong Kong’s economic prospects .
Overwhelming response to job aid program
The Employment Support Scheme (ESS) has received a total of 72,000 applications from employers and 61,000 applications from self-employed person in the two days since the dedicated online portal was launched on May 25. The ESS aims to help employers retain workers and avoid redundancies. Employers whose businesses have been hit by the COVID-19 epidemic are encouraged to make the best use of the ESS wage subsidies to retain their employees and pay wages to staff who have been put on no-pay leave. The application period will be open for three weeks through June 14. 
Fintech development to thrive
Hong Kong banks see fintech development as an opportunity to their business operations, with risk management services having the greatest potential, according to the “Fintech Adoption and Innovation in the Hong Kong Banking Industry” report released (May 20) by the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary and Financial Research. The report also showed that 86% of banks have adopted or plan to adopt fintech solutions across all types of financial services, with preliminary results showing that fintech adoption by banks brought about increased cost efficiency and improved profitability.
Chairman of HKEX reappointed
The Chief Executive has approved (May 19) the re-appointment of Laura Cha May-lung as Chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) with immediate effect. Her term will conclude at the end of the 2022 Annual General Meeting of the HKEX. The Government expressed its confidence that under Mrs Cha’s leadership, the HKEX will further enhance Hong Kong’s market quality and competitiveness, and strengthen the city’s position as the premier fund raising and risk management platform in the region.
  • Overall consumer prices rose 1.9% in April, compared to 2.3% in March. Netting out the effects of all Government’s one-off relief measures, the underlying inflation rate in April was 2.3%, lower than 2.6% recorded in the previous month. Year-on-year increases were seen for food and meals bought away from home, miscellaneous goods, housing, miscellaneous services, alcoholic drinks and tobacco as well as transport.

  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 5.2% for Feb – Apr 2020 from 4.2% in the previous three-month period. The underemployment rate also increased to 3.1% in the comparison periods. Although the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on a wide range of economic activities, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong is optimistic that the relief measures rolled out by the HKSAR Government will preserve the vitality of the economy and keep workers in employment.
International Festival of Arts and Ideas
What is the relationship between art production and science? Learn more about arts-sciences collaboration from HKETONY Arts Activator and cross-disciplinary artist-curator Chi-yung Wong in an online presentation on May 31. Currently on a six-month residency in Yale under the HKETONY’s Arts Activators Fellowship program, Wong will speak at the 25th International Festival of Arts and Ideas about his residency and his exploration of the relationship between anxiety, introspection and mindfulness practices. This event will be streamed live on Facebook , YouTube and on the Festival’s homepage .
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: Do Hong Kong people enjoy a wide range of personal freedoms?
A: Chapter III of the Basic Law guarantees a wide range of rights and freedoms to be enjoyed by Hong Kong people. The provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and international labor conventions as applied to Hong Kong continue to remain in force. ( BL Articles 27-39 ) The extensive rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people are borne out by, for instance, the fact that Hong Kong residents participate freely in processions and assemblies; newspapers regularly comment on or criticize government decisions and policies, and people express freely their opinion in Hong Kong’s open society.

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