January 14 - 20, 2020

BUSINESS & FINANCE

Government disagrees with Moody's rating

The Hong Kong SAR (HKSAR) Government strongly disagreed (Jan 21) with Moody’s decision to downgrade Hong Kong’s long-term issuer rating to “Aa3” from “Aa2”, while changing the credit outlook to “stable” from “negative”. A Government spokesman said, “Moody’s rating falls way out of line with Hong Kong’s sound credit fundamentals.” These include strong confidence in the Linked Exchange Rate System, strong and sound liquidity of banks, thriving capital markets, buttressed by the city’s institutional strengths such as the rule of law; an independent judiciary; a robust supervisory regime; free flows of capital, talent, goods and information; and a simple and low tax regime. Noting that the persistent social unrest reflects deep-seated problems in society in Hong Kong, on which the Government will conduct an independent review, he said the Government will continue to listen to members of the public and strengthen communications with the citizens, overcome these challenges and help relaunch Hong Kong.

Unlocking Hong Kong's business potential

Hong Kong has been stepping up efforts to sharpen its competitive edge to unlock the vast potential of the asset and wealth management business, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan at the Asia Private Equity Forum 2020 (Jan 15). The multi-pronged approach include diversifying fund structures and streamlining licensing process, adopting a more user-friendly approach to attract family offices, providing a more facilitative tax environment for funds, and expanding the fund distribution network. Among the world’s top 10 private equity fund managers, nine have a presence in Hong Kong, underlining the city's formidable strengths in the Asian private equity market.

Business and finance leaders join AFF

More than 3,500 distinguished speakers and influential global financial experts, policymakers, business leaders, economists and investors attended the 13th Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong (Jan 13-14). Distinguished speakers at the two-day conference and panel discussions included 2019 Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Abhijit Banerjee of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Janet Yellen, former chair of the US Federal Reserve. Under the theme “Redefining Growth: Innovation ∙ Breakthrough ∙ Inclusiveness”, the forum enabled participants to examine the current global economic landscape, and to gauge their views through on-site real-time polling on issues ranging from prospects for the global economy and sustainability challenges to investment opportunities and the risks brought by technology and innovation.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Core events of StartmeupHK Festival 2020 announced

Lifestyle and retail tech, smart city, artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, e-sports, environment and sustainability are some of the key themes of the 5th edition of the StartmeupHK Festival (Feb 10 - 15). The event will also see the finals of the global Jumpstarter and WHub start-up pitching competitions. An international mix of more than 300 speakers from 54 countries or territories will discuss their experience and know-how in a range of panel sessions, fireside chats, keynotes and presentations. The festival attendance is set to exceed 17,000 delegates.

ADMINISTRATION & CIVIC AFFAIRS

Government regrets call for sanctions

The Hong Kong SAR Government has expressed deep regret that some participants of a public meeting (Jan 19) called on foreign governments to intervene in Hong Kong’s affairs and to impose sanctions. In a statement, the Government said foreign governments, legislatures or organizations have absolutely no role in matters relating to Hong Kong’s constitutional development and should not express any opinion or attempt to influence or interfere in the discussions of related matters in Hong Kong.

Understanding the aspiration of the community for universal suffrage, the Hong Kong SAR Government has all along been taking forward constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Since the return to the Motherland, the HKSAR has made three attempts to take forward constitutional reform – in 2005, 2012 and 2015. In 2012, membership of the Election Committee was increased from 800 to 1,200, while that of the LegCo was increased from 60 to 70. This is a milestone in the development of democracy in Hong Kong. For the 2020 Legislative Council General Election, the five seats in the District Council (Second) Functional Constituency are expected to be returned by around four million registered voters.

Government responds to NGO report

The HKSAR Government will continue to resolutely implement the “one country, two systems” principle, which has been fully and successfully implemented in Hong Kong, in accordance with the Basic Law, said a Hong Kong SAR Government spokesman (Jan 15). Responding to parts of a report related to Hong Kong issued by Human Rights Watch, the spokesman added that the Government attaches great importance to human rights and freedoms and is determined to safeguard them. The Police have been carrying out enforcement actions in strict accordance with the law in order to protect life and property and restore order to society. The Government is also committed to universal suffrage of “one person, one vote” for selecting the Chief Executive and electing all members of the Legislative Council, as enshrined in the Basic Law.

HKETONY EVENT

Reception to welcome first Hong Kong chair of ISPA

Hong Kong, a thriving and vibrant arts and cultural hub, welcomes talents from around the world, said HKETONY Director Joanne Chu at the reception welcoming Tisa Ho, the first Hong Kong chair of the International Society for the Performing Arts, in New York (Jan 17). The Director also updated some 80 guests from the cultural and business sectors on the latest developments in arts infrastructure in Hong Kong, including last year’s opening of Xiqu Centre and Freespace at the West Kowloon Cultural District and the reopening of the Hong Kong Arts Museum.

HEALTH

Enhanced preventive measures launched

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) will launch additional precautionary measures to enhance surveillance of suspected cases of novel coronavirus infection in view of the latest situation and risk assessment, said Secretary for Food & Health Sophia Chan (Jan 20). Reporting criteria of severe respiratory disease associated with a novel infectious agent will be revised, she added. Medical practitioners are requested to make a report to the CHP if they encounter any individual with fever and acute respiratory illness or pneumonia. The Department of Health will now require travellers flying into Hong Kong from Wuhan to fill out a health declaration form.

KEY INDICATORS

ECONOMY

· Unemployment rate for the October – December period rose to a provisional 3.3% from 3.2% in the September – November period. The underemployment rate remained unchanged at 1.2% 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: Are Mainland laws applicable to Hong Kong?

A: Generally speaking, national laws of the Mainland China are not applied in the HKSAR. Article 18(2), (3) and (4) of the Basic Law provide for application of national laws in the HKSAR. Such national laws as applied in the HKSAR shall be listed in Annex III to the Basic Law. Currently, a total of 13 national laws are so listed in Annex III, all of which concern matters outside the limits of the HKSAR's autonomy. They include national laws on the capital, calendar, national anthem, national flag, national day, national emblem, territorial sea and contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, nationality, garrisoning, diplomatic and consular privileges and immunities as well as judicial immunity of assets of foreign central banks. (BL Article 18; Annex III)

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