January 5 - 11, 2021
New Chief Justice takes office
Swearing in on Jan 11, the new Chief Justice Andrew Cheung said that he would endeavor to maintain the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary and safeguard the rule of law. Congratulating Mr Cheung on his assumption of office, the Chief Executive Carrie Lam pledged her continued support for the Judiciary. “The rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success, and judicial independence is the linchpin in upholding the rule of law,” Mrs Lam said, adding that Hong Kong’s courts, as stipulated by the Basic Law, shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference. Mrs Lam is confident that under Mr Cheung’s leadership, the Judiciary will continue to be a bulwark of the “one country, two systems” policy and Hong Kong’s judges will continue to safeguard the law and administer justice without fear or favor.
Independent judiciary crucial
Speaking at the Ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year 2021 (Jan 11), Chief Justice Andrew Cheung pointed out that judicial independence means the Judiciary, the courts and the judges, when discharging their judicial functions, must not be subject to improper extraneous pressure or influence. Attempts to exert undue pressure on judges by means such as threats of violence or doxxing are as futile as they are reprehensible. The appropriate way to question a court’s decision is by means of appeal or review. He said people must have faith in Hong Kong common law system and allow the appeals process to run its course. He also explained that there are built-in features in Hong Kong’s judicial system that ensure that the Judiciary and judges are accountable to the public for their works.

Also speaking at the opening, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said that the holding of the opening of the legal year at the Court of Final Appeal, with its live broadcast to the public, is testimony to Hong Kong’s strong legal traditions and the resilience and tenacity of the legal community. She reiterated that the Basic Law guarantees judicial independence, free from any interference.

Earlier, outgoing Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, at his Farewell Sitting (Jan 6), said the independence of the judiciary, which is at the heart of the rule of law, is the guiding concept that underlines the way judges discharge their constitutional responsibilities. “Throughout my tenure as a judge and particularly in the last ten years as Chief Justice, I can say that I remain proud of all the judges in the way they have fearlessly and without compromise upheld the law and been true to their oath,” he said.
Government safeguards national security
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government refuted (Jan 10) the joint statement by the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada and the UK, and the US Secretary of State, stating that it is the HKSAR's constitutional responsibilities to safeguard national security. Arrests made are based on evidence and strictly in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. "As provided for in the Basic Law, the Department of Justice of the HKSAR Government makes independent prosecutorial decisions based on evidence, applicable laws and in accordance with its Prosecution Code, free from any interference. Any person who is prosecuted has the right to a fair trial by our independent courts, and the burden is on the prosecution to prove that the accused committed a crime beyond reasonable doubt before there can be a conviction." In an earlier statement in response to overseas government officials and politicians on the arrest of certain people for allegedly committing an offence relating to subversion under the National Security Law, the HKSAR Government said (Jan 7) the purpose of the National Security Law is to prevent, stop and punish acts and activities endangering national security in accordance with the law. Article 22 of the legislation stipulates that any person who organizes, plans, commits or participates in acts by force or threat of force or other unlawful means with a view to subverting the State power shall be guilty of an offence. “There is a clear line between political pluralism and attempts to seriously undermining the performance of government duties and functions.” 
Objection to proposed WTO modifications
As one of the 21 Parties to the revised Agreement on Government Procurement of the World Trade Organization (WTO GPA), Hong Kong notified (Jan 11) the WTO Committee on Government Procurement (GP Committee) of its objection to the modification proposed by the US to its commitments under the Agreement. “Hong Kong considers that the US’s proposed modification amounts to a withdrawal of its coverage commitment from the WTO GPA and will result in a reduced list of products being subject to the WTO GPA rules, thereby affecting the business opportunities of Hong Kong suppliers to the US government procurement market. Hong Kong is also concerned that it may affect the balance of rights and obligations among Parties under the WTO GPA,” a HKSAR Government spokesman said.
Belt and Road meeting held
A roundtable meeting on the Belt & Road Initiative was held online (Jan 8) to promote co-operation between state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and Hong Kong’s business and professional services sector. Speaking at the event, Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau said that Hong Kong, as a comprehensive functional platform for the initiative, is best placed to support SOEs in their Belt-Road projects. Hong Kong’s power on the financial, legal, and management fronts could go hand-in-hand with the strengths of SOEs, providing support in investment and financing, logistics, commerce and trade by capitalizing on the city’s extensive international networks and strengths in the professional services and innovation and technology. The meeting was joined by more than 100 representatives from 25 SOEs, with nearly 100 enterprises or members from more than 10 professional services bodies in Hong Kong viewing it online.
Hong Kong-ASEAN pacts take full effect
The Cambodia portion of the free trade agreement and the investment agreement between Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will take effect on Feb 12, signifying that both agreements signed between Hong Kong and the 10 member states of ASEAN will come into full effect. Hong Kong enterprises and service providers will enjoy the full benefits as committed to by all 10 ASEAN member states under the agreements, further enhancing business opportunities. Forged in 2017, the agreements have entered into force gradually since June 2019. Hong Kong has signed eight free trade agreements with 20 economies. With the free trade agreement between Hong Kong and ASEAN coming into full effect, all the four free trade agreements signed in the current term of the Hong Kong SAR Government will have taken effect. They are the free trade agreements signed with Macau, Georgia, Australia and the 10 ASEAN member states. 
Travel restrictions maintained
In view of the global COVID-19 pandemic situation, the boarding restrictions for the UK and South Africa as well as the 21-day compulsory quarantine arrangements for people arriving in Hong Kong from places outside China will be maintained. Currently, any person who has stayed in the either of the places for more than two hours on the day of boarding or during the 21 days before that day are not allowed to board for Hong Kong. All people arriving in Hong Kong who have stayed in places outside China on the day of arrival in Hong Kong or during the 21 days before that day, have to undergo compulsory quarantine for 21 days in designated quarantine hotels. The HKSAR Government said it recognizes such a requirement is very stringent and may inevitably affect the return journey of a number of Hong Kong residents in the UK or South Africa. However, it has the responsibility to guard against the importation of COVID-19 cases, and the new virus variant in particular, to protect the well-being of Hong Kong residents.
Free streaming of orchestra and ballet performances
How do eco-friendly musical instruments sound? Find out in this brilliant performance by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra using the award-winning Eco-Huqin series developed by the group to create a new orchestral voice. The piece “Reflection of the Moon on the Water” is the most representative work of the late blind Chinese composer and outstanding folk musician Hua Yanjun. Dance and ballet enthusiasts have the opportunity to watch the enthralling “Sombrerisimo”, choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and performed by Hong Kong Ballet. “Sombrerísimo”, inspired by the surrealist world of the Belgian painter René Magritte, famous for his paintings of men in bowler hats, was originally commissioned by New York City Center for the Fall for Dance Festival. Both performances are featured on the dedicated arts and culture webpage “Hong Kong Arts and Cultural Experience”.
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: Can Hong Kong conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions or international organizations, and participate in international conferences?
A: Hong Kong plays an active role in the international arena and maintains close contact with its international partners. The HKSAR may under the authorization of the Central People’s Government (CPG) conclude certain agreements with foreign states or regions, or may on its own, using the name “Hong Kong, China”, maintain and develop relations and conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions and relevant international organizations in the appropriate fields. In addition, the HKSAR may, as members of delegations of the People’s Republic of China, or in such other capacity as may be permitted by the CPG and the international organization or conference concerned, or using the name “Hong Kong, China”, participate in relevant international organizations and conferences. (BL Articles 96; 133; 151; 152; 155)
For daily updates
Follow us