March 16 - 22, 2021
Financial ranking rises
Hong Kong is ranked fourth in the latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) Report, up by one place from the last index. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government said (Mar 17) the overall ratings of financial centers ranked second to fourth in the report were very close, with a marginal difference of only one point among them. Hong Kong ranked in the top five in five areas of competitiveness. Amid the volatile global financial market in the past year, Hong Kong’s financial system had been operating smoothly. The Linked Exchange Rate System and various facets of the markets had also been functioning in an orderly manner. Hong Kong’s institutional strengths, including its highly open and internationalized markets, robust infrastructure support, internationally aligned regulatory regimes, rule of law, a large pool of financial talents and a full range of financial products as well as free flow of information and capital, are competitive edges that will continue to consolidate the city’s status as a leading international financial center.
Chief Executive addresses development forum
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she is confident that Hong Kong will thrive and soar higher with the full support of the central authorities. Addressing over 30 invited global business leaders at the Hong Kong Session of China Development Forum 2021 (Mar 20), Mrs Lam said her confidence is grounded in two major decisions made by the National People’ Congress that have put Hong Kong back on its right track, that is, fully and faithfully upholding ‘One Country, Two Systems’, safeguarding national security and ensuring Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity. This is further boosted by the support given by the central government to Hong Kong in the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic & Social Development, which reaffirms support for the city to enhance its status as an international financial center and strengthen its role as a global offshore renminbi business hub, an international asset management center and a risk management center. Mrs Lam said Hong Kong will proactively become a participant in domestic circulation and a facilitator in international circulation amidst the dual circulation development strategy of the country.
Social distancing measures extended
Social distancing measures currently in place will be extended till Mar 31 as the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong remains volatile. Large-scale cluster outbreaks were found at catering business premises and fitness centers, and silent transmission in the community is still active. Catering business premises should comply with specified requirements on air change or air purifiers by Apr 30. Bathhouses, party rooms, clubs or nightclubs, karaoke establishments, and swimming pools will remain closed. Unless exempted, the prohibition on group gatherings of more than four people in public places will continue. The requirement for wearing a mask at all times when on public transport and in public places will also remain in effect. The city’s COVID-19 vaccination program continues to run smoothly. To date (Mar 22), a cumulative total of about 379,600 people have received their first vaccination dose.
New quarantine hotel list issued
A total of 30 hotels will provide about 8,300 rooms under the third cycle of the Designated Quarantine Hotel Scheme for people arriving in Hong Kong from places outside China. Twenty-nine hotels on the list were designated hotels in the second cycle, while one of them is a new participant. The program was implemented on Dec 22, 2020 to further prevent importation of COVID-19 cases and reduce contact between arrivals from overseas and the local community. It requires all travelers arriving from places outside China to undergo compulsory quarantine for 21 days at designated quarantine hotels.
Electric vehicle roadmap unveiled
The HKSAR Government announced (Mar 17) the first Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularization of Electric Vehicles which sets out long-term policy objectives and plans for the city to attain zero vehicular emissions before 2050. Introducing the key measures, Secretary for the Environment KS Wong said the intention of the roadmap is to provide a very clear direction with a timeline for everyone in town to consider how to meet the target of carbon neutrality by 2050. The Government will take the lead to set electric cars as standard for its small and medium private cars to be procured or replaced, and encourage public organizations to make reference to such a green procurement policy. It will also promote trials for electric public transport and commercial vehicles including buses, public light buses, taxis and goods vehicles, with a view to setting a concrete way forward and a timetable around 2025.
US sanctions condemned
The HKSAR Government condemned (Mar 17) the latest move by the US Department of State, under an update to the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which continued to put 24 officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the HKSAR Government on a sanctions list. In a statement, the HKSAR Government said the HKSAR’s high degree of autonomy is guaranteed under “One Country, Two Systems”, adding that the HKSAR is an inalienable part of the PRC and is directly accountable to the Central People’s Government. National security and political structure are matters within the central authorities’ purview. In respect of the national security legislation, its positive effect in restoring peace and stability and safeguarding individual rights and freedoms, has been felt throughout Hong Kong. The National People’s Congress’s recent decision to improve the electoral system in the HKSAR is to ensure “patriots administering Hong Kong”. No country would allow its governance power to be vested in people who are not patriotic and who will endanger the country’s interests
Support for lawtech development
Attaching great importance to lawtech to provide legal services, Hong Kong is supporting further development of lawtech, not just in Hong Kong but also internationally, said Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, SC, at the 18th Willem C. Vis (East) International Commercial Arbitration Moot (Mar 21). In a new initiative, a Department of Justice Project Office for Collaboration with UNCITRAL has been set up to study legal issues relating to the increasing use of emerging technology. To promote the sustainable development of lawtech, the Department of Justice is actively exploring the development of the Hong Kong Legal Cloud to provide safe, secure and affordable data storage services, with a view to enhancing the capability of the profession to harness modern technology in the provision of legal and dispute resolution services. 
New film talents shine at Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York (HKETONY) is collaborating with the Asian Pop-up Cinema (APUC) in Chicago to present five newly released Hong Kong movies in its spring season film festival (Mar 15 to May 1). In her video remarks, Director of HKETONY Candy Nip thanked the APUC and US audiences for their support for Hong Kong movies. The five selected films showcase the energy and dynamics of Hong Kong’s film industry, and the outstanding talents of emerging directors. “Keep Rolling”, a directorial debut from veteran art director Man Lim-chung, kicked off the Hong Kong series on Mar 17. The documentary probes into the idiosyncratic world of Ann Hui, one of the most influential filmmakers in Hong Kong. Also featured at the festival are “Elisa’s Day”, directed by Alan Fung, a winner of the Hong Kong’s First Feature Film Initiative; “One Second Champion” by Chiu Sin-hang, who is the lead vocalist of a local Hong Kong band; “I Still Remember” by Lik Ho and “Ready O/R Knot” by Anselm Chan.
Hong Kong Ballet’s turn(it)out festival online
Hong Kong Ballet’s adventurous virtual turn(it)out festival (Mar 18 - April 4) is streaming thrilling world premieres and creative collaborations fusing classical and contemporary ballet. Festival highlights include “five(by)six”, an extraordinary production with five intriguing contemporary ballets by six international dance-makers and the world premiere of “The Orpheus Cabaret”, a fresh new collaboration between seven choreographers associated with Hong Kong Ballet and a team of The University of Hong Kong creative writers. “Ballet Classics for Children: Cinderella” returns online with fresh new choreography and direction by Hong Kong Ballet’s Artistic Director Septime Webre while “Binge-Worthy”, personally curated by Webre, showcases a dazzling collection of short videos from the Hong Kong Ballet’s vaults. The Festival also offers a wide-range of fringe activities for all ages.
  • The volume of Hong Kong’s total goods exports in January increased 44.6% year-on-year. The volume of goods imports for the month rose 37.2% over January 2020. Goods exports prices decreased 0.4% year-on-year for the month, while prices of goods imports increased 0.5%. January’s total export volume to the US grew 20.9% year-on-year.

  • Overall consumer prices in February 2021 rose by 0.3% year-on-year, smaller than the corresponding 1.9% increase in January. Netting out the effects of all Government’s one-off relief measures, the year-on-year rate of change in February’s underlying inflation rate was -0.1%, smaller than January’s -0.5%. This was mainly due to the increases in the costs for meals bought away from home and the charges for household services. 

  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 7.2%, the highest since 2004, for the period between December and February compared to the previous three-month period. The underemployment rate also increased to a post-SARS high of 4% during the period.
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: Have Hong Kong’s capitalist system and way of life been preserved?
A: The Basic Law provides that the capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged. Hong Kong maintains a free and open market economy with a free flow of capital, goods, intangible assets, and a freely convertible currency. People's lifestyle remains the same as before. (BL Articles 5; 112; 115)
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