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Hong Kong Digest

July 8, 2024

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New cross-boundary travel card for non-Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents

Starting Jul 10, all non-Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents, regardless of nationality, will be eligible for card-type Mainland Travel Permits to visit Mainland China multiple times within a five-year period without the need to apply for a separate visa. Individuals holding the card will be able to enjoy self-service clearance at control points of the Mainland.  The new measure will enhance convenience of clearance at control points of the Mainland and facilitate easier cross-boundary travel for business, tourism and family visits. Chief Executive John Lee said this would maintain the city’s international character and diversity, and provide a significant incentive for companies and talent from around the world to settle in Hong Kong.

Trade in services under CEPA to further liberalise

Trade in services under the Mainland & Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) will be further liberalised, following the substantial conclusion (Jul 1) of the consultations between the Ministry of Commerce of the Mainland Government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government. The new liberalisation measures target service sectors that Hong Kong enjoys competitive advantages and expand the Mainland’s liberalisation to the city, giving Hong Kong enterprises and professionals more preferential treatment to explore the Mainland market. Details of the measures will be announced. Under the current framework of the CEPA Agreement on Trade in Services, the Mainland fully or partially opens up 153 service sectors to Hong Kong’s service industry, enabling the city’s enterprises and professionals to enjoy preferential treatment in developing their business in the Mainland.

Over 300 companies expanded operation in Hong Kong

During the first half of 2024, Invest Hong Kong assisted 322 Mainland and overseas companies to set up or expand operations in Hong Kong, representing a 43% year-on-year increase. The total investment brought to the local economy reached US$4.9 billion, with more than 3,500 job opportunities created in such sectors as financial services & fintech, innovation & technology, family office, business & professional services, and consumer products. The 322 companies came from 33 economies, including 30 from the US. Separately, the first batch of visa applications under the New Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, launched on Mar 1, were approved in June. Of the 339 applications, the Immigration Department approved three applications from applicants who had already made investments of US$3.8 million. Another 88 applications were approved in principle, with those applicants being granted 180-day visitor visas.

Company re-domiciliation to Hong Kong facilitated

The HKSAR Government has published legislative proposals to facilitate non-Hong Kong companies to re-domicile in the city, further enhancing competitiveness through attracting enterprises and investment. These enhanced business facilitation procedures include relaxation requirement on financial statements; extension of deregistration period; retaining company name and business registration number; simplifying requirement on company members’ consent; and ensuring proper regulation of financial institutions. Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui said the government is pressing ahead with the drafting of the legislation with a view to submit the Bill to the Legislative Council as early as practicable. 


Cathay Pacific to operate from JFK Airport Terminal 6

Hong Kong’s home carrier Cathay Pacific Airways will make New York’s John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport Terminal 6 its new home in 2026. The airline will be among the first carriers to operate from the new terminal, opening a nearly 10,000 square foot lounge at Terminal 6, its first dedicated lounge in the New York market and its second in the US along with San Francisco International Airport. Cathay Pacific customers can also look forward to Terminal 6’s digital-first, boutique guest experience, with a less than 5-minute average walk from the TSA security checkpoint exit to its gates. Currently, the carrier operates three flights per day from JFK Terminal 8 to Hong Kong using Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 widebody aircraft.

Low-altitude economy to be promoted

The HKSAR Government is exploring ways to promote low-altitude flying activities and will implement low-altitude economy pilot projects in a gradual and orderly manner. Replying to lawmakers’ questions at the Legislative Council (Jul 3), Acting Secretary for Transport & Logistics Liu Chun-san noted the concepts of a low-altitude economy and low-altitude flying activities have gained widespread attention in the Mainland and internationally in recent years. The Government will work on various fronts to capitalise on the Mainland’s strengths and promote a low-altitude economy as one of the growth engines of new quality productive forces.


Extension of government land leases provide certainty to investors 

The Extension of Government Leases Ordinance came into force on Jul 5, providing a standing statutory mechanism for handling lease extension matters for general purposes leases in batches for 50 years without charging an additional land premium. The mechanism removes doubts with regard to the “2047 deadline” and brings peace of mind to investors. Secretary for Development Bernadette Linn said, “this manifests the solid safeguards to Hong Kong under the steadfast and successful implementation of ‘one country, two systems’, and creates more favourable conditions for Hong Kong to pursue economic growth,” she said. More information can be found on the dedicated webpage.


Another pair of giant pandas gifted to HK

As HKSAR celebrated the 27th anniversary of its establishment on Jul 1, the city welcomed the news of the gift of a pair of giant pandas by the Central Government, set to arrive in the next couple of months and reside at Hong Kong Ocean Park. The pair will be joining Ying Ying and Le Le, which were gifted to the city in 2007. Chief Executive Mr Lee is leading a delegation in Sichuan (Jul 7 – 9) to deliberate on and understand the arrival arrangements of the pandas. He expressed his sincere gratitude to the Central Government, and his thanks to the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, and the Sichuan Province for their care and support for Hong Kong.

Celebrations around the city 

A series of festivities and celebration activities were held in Hong Kong on Jul 1, including a flag-raising ceremony and a reception. The public also enjoyed free admission to museums and discounts offered by restaurants and retailers. Speaking at the reception, Chief Executive John Lee said the government will focus its efforts in developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood; reinforcing Hong Kong’s competitive edge and exploring new areas of growth; and seizing both national and international opportunities.


Chief Secretary speaks at UN meeting

Speaking at the plenary meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland on Jul 4, Chief Secretary Chan Kwok-ki stressed that Hong Kong residents fully enjoy their legitimate rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Basic Law. He emphasised that with the rule of law, a highly efficient market, a clean government, a free flow of capital, talent, information and goods, as well as an international lifestyle, Hong Kong has everything it takes to be a world-class city. Mr Chan said the HKSAR has fulfilled its constitutional duty to enact local legislation to safeguard national security. At the meeting, the UNHRC formally adopted the review report on China by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. The review report covers a total of 428 recommendations raised with China by the United Nations Member States, including 24 pertaining to the HKSAR.

US’s reports opposed

The HKSAR Government said (Jun 25) it vehemently opposes and rejects unfounded and false remarks about Hong Kong contained in the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2024. In a statement, the HKSAR Government said trafficking in persons (TIP) is not prevalent in Hong Kong and that there has never been any evidence of the city being used by syndicates as a destination or transit point for TIP. It said the report findings are groundless, and that its inclusion of Hong Kong on the level of “Tier 2 (Watch List)” is unfair, misconceived, and not substantiated by facts. In a separate statement (Jun 29), the HKSAR Government, said it strongly disapproved of and rejected remarks against the situation of human rights, etc, in Hong Kong in the US’ 2023 Report on International Religious Freedom.  Hong Kong residents enjoy the rights and freedoms, including religious freedom and the freedom of speech, under the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other relevant laws, the statement noted. The rights and freedoms the residents enjoy under the Basic Law, and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law.

Did you know...

The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the HKSAR. It provides the guarantees to maintain our existing way of life, including socio-economic development, the rights and duties of Hong Kong people, the rule of law and other areas. Article 23 of the BL stipulates that the HKSAR shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities in the HKSAR, and to prohibit political organisations or bodies of the HKSAR from establishing ties with foreign political organisations or bodies.

Q: Does Article 23 of the Basic Law target the media/foreign investors?

A: The legislation targets acts and activities endangering national security. The HKSAR law enforcement agencies have been taking law enforcement actions based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law in respect of the acts of the persons or entities concerned, and have nothing to do with their occupation, background or political stance. Background or occupation, such as the media sector, foreign investors, etc. are also not elements of the enacted offences. Article 23 legislation is ultimately for better safeguarding the fundamental rights and freedoms of HKSAR residents and other people in the HKSAR, and ensuring that the properties and investments in the HKSAR are protected by law.

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