MAY 11 - 17, 2021
Real GDP grows 7.9% in first quarter
The Hong Kong economy recovered visibly in the first quarter of 2021, with real GDP resuming appreciable year-on-year growth of 7.9%, ending six consecutive quarters of contraction. Total exports of goods surged by 30.2% year-on-year in real terms, due to the global economic recovery led by the Mainland and the US alongside a sharp rebound in global demand. However, the economic recovery was uneven and overall economic activity remained below the pre-recession level, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on certain economic segments, particularly those involving consumer-facing activities. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from a 17-year high of 7.2% in the three-month period ending February to 6.8% in the first quarter of 2021. Considering the uneven economic recovery and the relatively high uncertainty associated with the pandemic, the real GDP growth forecast of 3.5% to 5.5% for 2021 is maintained.
Travel bubble flights deferred
The inaugural flights under the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble (ATB), scheduled for May 26, will be deferred due to Singapore’s recent COVID-19 epidemic situation. The two governments will closely monitor the epidemic situation in both places, with a further announcement to be made by Jun 13. Both governments remain strongly committed to launching the ATB to resume air travel between the two regional aviation hubs in a gradual and orderly manner under stringent public health control protocols.
Quarantine rules tightened and enhanced
Effective May 21, boarding and quarantine requirements for people arriving in Hong Kong from Argentina, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Singapore will be tightened. They will have to present proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the aircraft. If they are yet to be fully vaccinated, they will be subject to a 21-day compulsory quarantine at designated quarantine hotels, with four tests to be conducted during the period. For those who have been fully vaccinated, they are still subject to a 14-day compulsory hotel quarantine. Non-Hong Kong residents who have stayed in the above-mentioned places will be denied entry into Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government earlier (May 13) announced that, apart from undergoing the test-and-hold arrangement at the airport, inbound travelers are also subject to further COVID-19 tests while undergoing compulsory quarantine at designated quarantine hotels in order to further strengthen infection control
Social distancing measures extended
Social distancing measures currently in place in Hong Kong will be maintained until May 26. Certain restrictions under the vaccine bubble were relaxed since Apr 29, with a view to respond to the aspirations of various trades and the public to resume normal daily lives as soon as possible. The implementation of the first phase of measures under the vaccine bubble is generally in order. To allow the relevant operators of premises and the general public to get used to the relevant measures, the HKSAR Government will continue to maintain the existing restrictions applicable to catering business premises and scheduled premises, as well as the requirements for group gatherings and mask wearing.
Appointment of permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal
The Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal, Andrew Cheung welcomed (May 12) the acceptance by the Chief Executive of the recommendation of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission on the appointment of the Honourable Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon, Vice-President and Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of the High Court, as a permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal. The HKSAR Government would be seeking the Legislative Council’s endorsement of the recommended appointment. The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal Ordinance (Cap. 484) provides that in hearing and determining an appeal, the Court of Final Appeal is constituted by five judges, i.e. the Chief Justice, three permanent judges and one non-permanent Hong Kong judge or one non-permanent common law judge.
MOU on secondment of legal professionals signed
Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, SC, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Secretary-General of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), Professor Ignacio Tirado, for the technical and administrative arrangements relating to the secondment of legal professionals at a virtual signing ceremony (May 12). Ms Cheng said that the signing of the MoU signified an important milestone for the mutual collaboration between UNIDROIT and the Department of Justice, laying a foundation for future development. UNIDROIT is a renowned international organization with the mandate to modernize, harmonize and co-ordinate private and in particular commercial law between states and to formulate uniform law instruments, principles and rules for such purposes. The secondment program will be open for applications for one month from May 20 to June 19. 
Hong Kong-Guangdong conference held
Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Guangdong Governor Ma Xingrui co-chaired the 22nd Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference through video conferencing on May 14. Delivering the opening remarks, Mrs Lam said that with a common objective of taking forward the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong has become ever closer. Both places will fully leverage their strengths together, achieve a win-win outcome, and seek greater policy innovation and breakthroughs to bring more opportunities for enhancing economic growth and improving the livelihood of the people. Five co-operation agreements were signed after the meeting, which also set out individual areas of co-operation, the progress made and the directions for future co-operation in areas including finance, legal and dispute resolution services, innovation and technology, medicine and healthcare, and youth development.
I&T key to Hong Kong’s growth potential
Highlighting that Innovation & Technology (I&T) is at the heart of Hong Kong’s growth potential, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the city has identified four key areas to focus its efforts and investment, namely artificial intelligence and robotics, smart city, fintech and biotech. Speaking at a conference organized by the University of Hong Kong Business School (May 14), Mr Chan said that the HKSAR Government has allocated more than US$14.1 billion to fast track I&T progress, adding that Hong Kong will play a central role in the GBA Area, collaborating with other GBA cities, particularly Shenzhen. The two cities are setting up a “one zone, two parks” development, combining Hong Kong’s R&D strengths and Shenzhen’s capabilities in advanced manufacturing. “In developing the region into an international I&T center, we will contribute to China's technological self-reliance, while creating new growth areas for Hong Kong's economy,” he said. 
Expanding innovation business via Hong Kong
Highlighting Hong Kong as the research cluster, strategic business platform and technology marketplace in Asia, Director of HKETONY Candy Nip encouraged US innovators and businesses to make use of Hong Kong to grow their business in the region. Delivering the opening remarks at the Hong Kong session of Philly Tech Week (May 13), Ms Nip pointed out that Hong Kong, with its strategic location, global outlook and institutional strengths and international connectivity, also has a strong entrepreneurial spirit, with over 3,300 start-ups calling it home in 2020. Enjoying the dual advantages under the “one country, two systems” framework, Hong Kong is well-positioned to pool together the innovation resources to support innovation-driven development in Mainland China and the rest of Asia. The online session also featured speakers from Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park and Invest HK to share Hong Kong's latest developments in the fields of fintech, biomedical, big data and robotics.
Hong Kong innovations win global acclaim
The Hong Kong delegation won a record 136 awards, including 14 gold medals with congratulations of the jury, 47 gold medals, 61 silver medals and 14 bronze medals with their inventions among more than 350 exhibitors at the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva 2021. Commending Hong Kong research and development talent for winning worldwide acclaim, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said this reflected a fervent I&T atmosphere in Hong Kong with flourishing I&T developments in the government, industry, academic and research sectors that exemplify the city’s strong innovation and R&D capabilities.
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: Are Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy?
A: In accordance with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the National People’s Congress enacted the Basic Law, authorizing the HKSAR to exercise a high degree of autonomy and enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial powers, including that of final adjudication, in accordance with the Basic Law. The Central People’s Government (CPG) shall be responsible for for the foreign affairs and defense relating to the HKSAR and other matters authorized by the Basic Law. It also authorizes the HKSAR to conduct relevant external affairs on its own in accordance with the Basic Law. Hong Kong is not required to pay taxes to the CPG. (Basic Law (BL) Articles 2; 12-17; 19; 22; 106)

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