April 15 - 21, 2019

LEGAL

Hong Kong: International arbitration hub

Hong Kong is committed to enhancing the city as a center for international legal and dispute-resolution services through training and the application of technology, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the International Dispute Resolution Conference 2019 (Apr 17). Addressing more than 500 professionals, Mrs Lam said the government is providing close to US$20 million to support the development and initial operation of a more cost-effective electronic Business Related Arbitration and Mediation System (eBRAM) – the world’s first online deal-making and dispute-resolution platform for cross-border commercial and trade disputes.

Strengths in dispute resolution

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng promoted Hong Kong’s legal and dispute resolution services during her visit to Europe (Apr 11-18). She discussed international trade law and enhanced cooperation with the Secretary of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Anna Joubin-Bret in Vienna. In meetings with various international organisations, including the International Court of Justice, Ms Cheng reiterated that judicial independence and the rule of law has been upheld in Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” principle.

Speaking at a Paris conference, Ms Cheng stressed that Hong Kong has rich experience in deal-making and dispute resolution for China-related businesses and it is the Government’s long standing policy to support and strengthen its position as a leading hub for deal making and dispute resolution.

Upholding the rule of law and justice

Chief Executive Carrie Lam reiterated the two purposes of amending the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance ahead of the Executive Council meeting (Apr 16). The first is to provide a legal basis to deal with the Taiwan case, and the other is to plug a loophole in the existing arrangements for the return or the surrender of fugitive offenders. No matter what the circumstances may be, the Government will continue to improve the current legal framework to discharge an international obligation that will help to safeguard and uphold the rule of law and justice in Hong Kong.

BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

Participation in second Belt and Road Forum

Chief Executive Carrie Lam will lead a high-level Hong Kong delegation to participate in the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, to be held in Beijing (Apr 25 – 27). Mrs Lam said participation at the Forum will enhance the city’s role and position as the prime platform and a key link for the Belt and Road Initiative. The Forum will discuss such topics as development policy co-ordination, infrastructure connectivity, and sustainable development.

INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY

Tech heavyweights gather at Internet Economy Summit

The Government is taking forward various initiatives to build Hong Kong into a smarter city, including renewing its commitment to increase R& D capability, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Addressing global renowned experts, industry leaders and government officials at the Internet Economy Summit 2019 (Apr 15-16), Mrs Lam said the government’s R&D expenditure as a ratio to GDP will be doubled to 1.5% by 2022. At the same time, there has been encouraging response from international firms, universities and research institutions to set up their laboratories in Hong Kong.

Fintech development supported

As a staunch supporter for fintech development in Hong Kong, the Government has rolled out a wealth of programs and initiatives, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan at the Internet Economic Summit 2019 (Apr 16). These included the Faster Payment System launched last September for instant fund transfer; the introduction of a common QR code standard for retail payments; and the granting of virtual bank licenses in April. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is looking into connecting the blockchain-based trade finance platform, eTradeConnect, with more overseas initiatives.

Hong Kong scoops gold at inventions exhibition

Hong Kong enterprises won 57 gold medals, 51 silver medals, nine bronze medals and nine special awards at the 47th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva in Switzerland (Apr 10-14). A water-based green technology for a recyclable lithium car battery without causing pollution throughout its life cycle, developed by Science Park partner company GRST Holdings, won the Grand Prize. The world’s first robot system for replacing and collecting traffic cones and warning lanterns for road works, by Hong Kong Productivity Council and the Highways Department, earned an Honorable Mention and a Gold Medal with Congratulations of the Jury.

CREATIVE INDUSTRIES

Film industry bolstered with new measures

Hong Kong’s film industry is buoyed with the easing of five restrictions currently in place, allowing the city’s films and film practitioners to enjoy greater access to the Mainland market. Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau said (Apr 16) he believed Hong Kong’s film industry would take full advantage of the new measures, while continuing to leverage existing advantages, to expand Mainland and overseas markets and further promote the brand of Hong Kong Films.

ECONOMY

Key economic indicators

  • Total exports of goods for the first two months of 2019 fell by 4.8% compared with the same period last year (Apr 16). The volume of imports of goods decreased by 6.7%.
  • Amid the tight labor market, unemployment rate stood at 2.8% (Jan - Mar 2019), unchanged from the Dec 2018 – Feb 2019 period. The underemployment rate also stayed unchanged at 1% in the two periods.

BASIC LAW

Hong Kong and its Basic Law

The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (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 residents have the right to vote and to stand for election?

A: Permanent residents of Hong Kong have the right to vote and stand for elections in accordance with law. Election to the sixth term Legislative Council of the HKSAR was held on September 4, 2016. A total of 289 candidates stood for the election. A total of 2.2 million geographical constituency (GC) voters turned out to vote, representing 58% of registered voters in the GCs. 35 Members were returned from five GCs, while the other 35 Members were returned from 29 functional constituencies (FCs) including the District Council (second) FC. About 3.47 million registered GC electors who do not belong to any of the 28 traditional FCs can cast one vote each in their respective GC and the newly created District Council (second) FC. (BL Article 26)

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