Hong Kong Running Out of Its Most Valuable Asset: LandPosted: July 20, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China, Economics, Global | Tags: Hong Kong, Housing, Wall Street Journal, WSJ Leave a comment
In a city where land is everything, a housing crunch is brewing.
Annie Zheng reports: According to a new study by think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, the amount of new, developable land in the former British colony is shrinking. Add in a growing population that will outpace the supply of new apartment units, and there’s a pressing need for the creation of more land, says the think tank, led by former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.
“We see a substantial shortage in land and housing resources,” said William Tsang, senior researcher and author of the study. “The government is increasingly relying on changing the use of old land. This means the amount of buildable land is dwindling. When that runs out, what’s next?”
[Order Alice Poon’s book “Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong” from Amazon]
The study found that in 2012, 73% of the nine million square feet of public land for bidding was reclaimed land; by 2015 that had dropped to 50% of the 7.8 million square feet on offer. As a result, the government is relying more on selling converted forms of land, such as work sites, slopes and former staff quarters.
[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report ]
Public land sales in the form of 50-year land grants are a major source of revenue for the government and one way developers secure land on which to build. In recent years, a flurry of new developers including mainland Chinese have entered the bidding process as the government has put up smaller and more pieces of land. Read the rest of this entry »
Global Financial Markets React to Brexit VotePosted: June 24, 2016 Filed under: Breaking News, Economics, Global, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Brexit, Finance, Hang Seng Index, Hong Kong Leave a comment
Hong Kong stocks dived on Friday morning after vote counting indicated a win for the “Leave” camp in the referendum on Britain leaving the European Union.
The Hang Seng index nosedived 4.67 per cent or 974.22 points, trading at 20,132.02 at Friday’s morning close. At one point, the index lost 1,023.34 points or 4.9 per cent. The H-share Index also fell 4.58 per cent or 402.21 points to 8,382.86.
Pound sterling fell sharply by more than 12 per cent in morning trade to its lowest level in 30 years on the Brexit news, with analysts believing the currency has no hope to bounce back in the near term.
Chinese yuan also fell to a five year low with onshore yuan down 0.54 per cent to trade at 6.6101 before bouncing back to 6.6091 yuan per US dollar at 12.30am, while the offshore yuan down 0.79 per cent to trade at 6.6360 yuan per US dollar. Read the rest of this entry »
A Subversive Message in Hong Kong Goes Up in LightsPosted: May 19, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, Censorship, China, Global | Tags: Center for Public Integrity, Communist Party of China, Hong Kong, Hu Jintao, Mainland China, Ming Pao, Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, Taiwan, Xi Jinping Leave a comment
The city has gone to great lengths to contain protests during Mr. Zhang’s visit, but pro-democracy messages have slipped through.
BEIJING — Jason Lam reports: For more than a minute on Tuesday night, nine-digit numbers were displayed across the facade of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Center. Towering above Victoria Harbor, the glowing white digits blinked against the night sky: 979,012,493… 979,012,492… 979,012,491…
“Due to the high level of security, there’s almost no channel for the Hong Kong people to voice and protest.”
The seemingly innocuous numbers contained a subversive statement. The animation is a countdown of the seconds until when the “one country, two systems” framework — a guarantee that Hong Kong, a former British colony, would keep its civil liberties and a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 — is set to expire.
“We hope to deliver this work to illustrate the biggest anxiety of the Hong Kong people,” Sampson Wong, who created the animation with the artist Jason Lam, said before the lights first went up.
“Most of the animations shown on the I.C.C. are ad-like, meaningless videos. We wanted to show something relevant to the social situation of Hong Kong.”
The artists planned the display to coincide with a three-day visit to Hong Kong by Zhang Dejiang, a member of China’s governing Politburo Standing Committee, which began on Tuesday. Mr. Zhang is the highest-ranking official from mainland China to visit Hong Kong since the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014 known as the Umbrella Movement.
[Read the full text here, at The New York Times]
The city has gone to great lengths to contain protests during Mr. Zhang’s visit, but pro-democracy messages have slipped through. At least seven members of the League of Social Democrats party were arrested on Tuesday in connection with at least two banners appearing in public — one on a hillside, the other along the route taken by Mr. Zhang’s motorcade — reading “I Want Genuine Universal Suffrage” and “End Chinese Communist Party Dictatorship.”
“Due to the high level of security, there’s almost no channel for the Hong Kong people to voice and protest,” Mr. Wong said. Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. Shuts Down International $180 M ‘Psychic’ Mail Fraud Linked to Hong Kong FirmPosted: May 10, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China, Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice | Tags: Alibaba, Alipay, China, China Investment Corporation, Financial services in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, PayPal, South China Morning Post, Tmall 1 Comment
New York judge bans eight parties from sending promotional materials, including a company with a branch in Sheung Wan.
US authorities have shut down a long-running international “psychic” mail fraud ring linked to a Hong Kong company that cheated over a million Americans out of more than US$180 million.
“This widespread scam targeted more than one million Americans, many of whom were elderly or in financial distress.”
— Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division
It was understood Hong Kong police have not received any complaints about such a scam or the local firm, Destiny Research Center Limited.
A federal judge from the Eastern District of New York approved a consent decree on Monday, permanently banning eight parties, including Destiny Research Center and its president, Martin Dettling of Zurich, from using the US mail system to send ads, promotional materials and solicitations on behalf of self-styled psychics, astrologers and clairvoyants.
[Hundreds of Hong Kong home owners cheated by scammers posing as financial agents: HK$320 million in new debts for victims]
Since 2000, the defendants allegedly preyed upon vulnerable Americans’ superstitions and sent them over 56 million letters through the US mail purported to have been written by French psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin. The letters predicted the recipients would become rich through means such as winning the lottery if they bought products and services to secure good fortune.
One such letter touted how Duval and Guerin shared “clear visions” that recipients would come into “massive sums of money on games of chance” if they paid US$50 for a “mysterious talisman” and a copy of “My Invaluable Guide to My New Life”. Read the rest of this entry »
Hong Kong Cracks Down on Illegal Money Flows from China TradePosted: May 5, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China, Crime & Corruption, Economics | Tags: American Stock Exchange, Hong Kong, Mutual fund, Nasdaq, New York Stock Exchange, Reuters, Revenue, Thomson Reuters Leave a comment
A record net $674 billion left China last year, the International Institute of Finance estimates. A further $175 billion left China in the first quarter.
Saint Chatterjee reports: Hong Kong is conducting a multi-pronged customs, shipping and financial sector crackdown against so-called fake trade invoicing that allows billions of dollars of capital to leave China illegally.
Hong Kong’s central bank told Reuters it has beefed up its scrutiny of banks’ trade financing operations, while customs officials are doing more random checks on shipments crossing border posts and conducting raids on warehouses to ensure the authenticity of goods, senior officials working in shipping, logistics and banking said. The head of a logistics company said surprise customs inspections at Hong Kong border posts had doubled.
The sources declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the issues.
They said the increased efforts began this year and reflected concerns about billions of dollars in illicit cash authorities suspect are being channeled through Hong Kong following a stock market crash in China last year.
“Examinations and investigations reflect one of the strongest trends we are seeing now in the financial sector,” said Urszula McCormack, a partner at law firm King & Wood Mallesons, which helped co-author a report published by The Hong Kong Association of Banks in February that highlighted shipping as a sector where fake invoicing can thrive.
China has become increasingly concerned about capital outflows since the middle of last year when Chinese rushed to get money offshore for safekeeping or to invest following the stock market slump and unexpected yuan devaluation.
Hong Kong is the most popular route, analysts say, because of its proximity to China.
Chinese authorities have tried to staunch the outflows by tightening cross-border investment quotas, stepping up enforcement action of existing rules and restricting residents from buying financial products, such as insurance policies, offered in Hong Kong. But the trade channel had largely been left untouched given the complexity and magnitude of transactions involved.
A record net $674 billion left China last year, the International Institute of Finance estimates. A further $175 billion left China in the first quarter. China had been a long-term net importer of dollars. Read the rest of this entry »
China Hunts Source of Letter Urging Xi to QuitPosted: March 28, 2016 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China, Global | Tags: Associated Press, Barack Obama, Beijing, China, Hong Kong, Jia Jia, National People's Congress, President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping 1 Comment
A Chinese news portal’s publication of a mysterious letter calling for President Xi Jinping’s resignation appears to have triggered a hunt for those responsible, in a sign of Beijing’s anxiety over bubbling dissent within the Communist Party. As WSJ’s Chun Han Wong reports:
The letter, whose authorship remains unclear, appeared on the eve of China’s legislative session in early March, the most public political event of the year.
Since then, at least four managers and editors with Wujie Media—whose news website published the missive—and about 10 people from a related company providing technical support have gone missing, according to their friends and associates, who say the disappearances are linked to a government probe into the letter….(more)
Read the full story on WSJ.com. Read the rest of this entry »
Hong Kong’s SCMP Newspaper Website Blocked in ChinaPosted: March 11, 2016 Filed under: Censorship, China, Mediasphere | Tags: Beijing, China, China Media Project, Hong Kong, Joe Tsai, Media of China, Party leader, President of the People's Republic of China, South China Morning Post, Xi Jinping Leave a comment
Beijing (AFP) – The website of the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper being bought by Internet giant Alibaba, has become inaccessible in China during a series of high-level government meetings in Beijing.
Attempts by AFP in China on Friday to open the newspaper’s English and Chinese-language websites returned only error messages saying that the pages could not be displayed.
The scmp.com website was blocked starting on March 3, according to the security website GreatFire.org, which monitors online censorship in China.
China’s Communist Party oversees a vast censorship system — dubbed the Great Firewall — that aggressively blocks sites or snuffs out Internet and TV content and commentary on topics considered sensitive, such as Beijing’s human rights record and criticisms of the government.
Popular social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter are inaccessible in the country, as is Youtube.
Several Western news organisations have accused China of blocking access to their websites in the past, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Reuters. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Virus of the Mind’! ‘Ten Years‘: The Controversial Hong Kong Independent Film that China Doesn’t Want You to SeePosted: March 10, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, China, Entertainment, Global | Tags: 10 Years, CCTV, Cinema, Derek Yee, Hollywood Reporter, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Film Award, Jevons Au Man-Kit, Mainland China, Movies, Ten Years, Tencent Holdings, The Hollywood Reporter, Yau Ma Tei Leave a comment
Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times has called ‘Ten Years,’ comprising vignettes that reveal a dystopic vision of Hong Kong’s future in which political freedoms have been eroded by China’s control, a “virus of the mind.”
Patrick Brzeski reports: The most talked-about recent film phenomenon in Hong Kong centers on the territory’s tiniest local release. The dark, provocative indie drama Ten Years was produced on a microbudget of $75,000 and opened in December at a single cinema in Hong Kong’s Yau Ma Tei district. A surprise run of sellout screenings resulted in the movie beating the local per-screen average of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opened the following day.
Ten Years comprises five shorts — all set in the year 2025, and each directed by a different Hong Kong filmmaker — that explore ways in which life in the territory might change during the next decade. Collectively, the vignettes reveal a dystopic vision of Hong Kong’s future in which human rights and political freedoms in the semiautonomous territory have been eroded by the incursion of mainland China’s control.
[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]
The film struck an immediate chord among a Hong Kong populace worried about its future.
“Many in the audience told us they hadn’t gone to the cinema to watch a movie for a long time,” says Jevons Au Man-Kit, one of the film’s five directors. “But they came to support Ten Years. It was more than just a movie to them — it’s about their home.” Read the rest of this entry »
Slaying of Beijing Judge Prompts Horror in China’s Embattled Legal CommunityPosted: March 1, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China, Crime & Corruption, Global | Tags: Beijing, China, Government of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Shenzhen, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, United Nations Leave a comment
Te-Ping Chen reports: The case of a Beijing judge gunned down late last week — the latest in a slew of physical attacks against the profession — has triggered horror and introspection among China’s legal community, which is already facing problems of morale.
According to the Supreme People’s Court’s verified Weibo account, Ma Caiyun, 38, was shot and killed on Friday by two attackers. One of the attackers, the court said, was an individual whose post-divorce property settlement case had previously been heard by Ms. Ma. The duo killed themselves after the attack on Ms. Ma, the court said.
According to the Beijing police, the perpetrators also attacked several others, including a man married to one of the attackers’ ex-wives. The man died in the assault, police said, adding that the gun used in the attack was homemade.
China’s judges have faced violent assaults before, including physical beatings, knifings and more. Last September, a 43-year-old man involved in a Hubei labor dispute, unhappy with the verdict, stabbed four judges.
[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]
On social media, numerous judges and lawyers mourned and shared news of Ms. Ma’s death. While such postings were at first the subject of assiduous deletions by censors, on Sunday, the country’s highest court publicly confirmed her death. Read the rest of this entry »
Driving a Stake in the Heart of Bloodthirsty IRS Agents, Americans Living Abroad Renounce U.S. Citizenship in Record NumbersPosted: February 9, 2016 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Economics, Global, Politics | Tags: Barack Obama, Brad Birkenfeld, Citizenship in the United States, Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act, Hong Kong, Internal Revenue Service, The Wall Street Journal, United States Leave a comment
Uncle Sam’s Global Tax Police Crawl Over International Borders to Extract Tribute from U.S. Citizens.
The number of citizens and long-term residents cutting their official ties to Uncle Sam jumped more than 20% last year to 4,279, according to a CNNMoney analysis of the latest government data.
“Unlike most other countries, the U.S. taxes its citizens on all income, no matter where it’s earned or where they live.”
It’s a trend that’s been increasing in recent years. Many of those severing links are Americans living overseas who are tired of dealing with complicated tax paperwork, a headache that has worsened since new regulations came into effect.
“For Americans living abroad, that results in a mountain of paperwork so complex that they are often forced to seek professional help, forking out high fees for accountants and lawyers.”
Eighteen times as many Americans renounced their citizenship or long-term residency in 2015 compared with 2008. Last year was the third record-breaking year in a row.
“The burden has gotten heavier in recent years with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which became law in 2010.”
Unlike most other countries, the U.S. taxes its citizens on all income, no matter where it’s earned or where they live. For Americans living abroad, that results in a mountain of paperwork so complex that they are often forced to seek professional help, forking out high fees for accountants and lawyers.
[Read the full story here, at CNNMoney]
The burden has gotten heavier in recent years with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which became law in 2010.
It requires individuals to report certain foreign assets and banks to disclose all foreign accounts held by Americans. That comes on top of another rule that requires Americans to disclose foreign bank holdings above $10,000. Read the rest of this entry »
World’s Smallest Monkey on Display in Hong KongPosted: February 3, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China | Tags: Hong Kong, Monkey, Primatology, Zoo Leave a comment
Beijing’s War on Rights Lawyers and Activists ContinuesPosted: January 24, 2016 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China, Crime & Corruption, Global | Tags: 1972 Nixon visit to China, Beijing, China, China Law Blog, Chinese characters, Chinese law, Communist Party of China, Government of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Internet governance, President of the People's Republic of China, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Wuzhen, Xi Jinping, Zhejiang Leave a comment
Stanley Lubman writes: A trio of recent repressive actions by the Chinese party-state represents a disturbing three-pronged attack that treats legality as an unnecessary burden on governance over society, and illustrates how far China is willing to go to snuff out dissent.
The actions include the arrest of seven lawyers accused of “subversion” and four others charged with lesser offenses; the televised “confession” of a China-based Swedish citizen who worked for a rights NGO and has been charged with “endangering state security;” and the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers and publishers One reemerged on CCTV to confess to a prior crime years earlier, and a second has written to his wife from Shenzhen to say that he has been “assisting in an investigation.”
Arrests for “subversion of state power”
The lawyers who have been arrested have all been in the forefront of defending controversial activists. Seven are accused of “subversion of state power,” an offense that has been on the books since 1997 but infrequently used. More commonly, activists such as Pu Zhiqiang have been convicted for the lesser charges of “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels.” (Pu received a three-year sentence that was simultaneously suspended for the same length of time; however, because of his conviction, Pu is barred from practicing law.) Conviction for subversion can lead to a sentence of anywhere from three years to life in prison.
[Order Stanley Lubman’s book “Bird in a Cage: Legal Reform in China after Mao” from Amazon.com]
Three of the other lawyers were charged with the lesser offense of “inciting subversion against state power” which, according to a recent posting by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, is used against individuals who “express criticism of the government” and is punishable by a sentence of up to five years. One other person, a paralegal, has been charged with “assisting in destruction of evidence; other lawyers have been detained incommunicado or forcibly disappeared for at least six months.
[Order Stanley Lubman’s book “The Evolution of Law Reform in China: An Uncertain Path” from Amazon.com]
The arrests raise the severity of the charges by aiming at speech related to “subversion” — rather than acts. Foreign experts are dismayed; Eva Pils (Kings College London) comments that the situation “is basically about as serious as it gets for human rights advocacy.”
The arrest of the human rights lawyers is a continuation of the crackdown that exploded in July, but the rise of the accusation of “subversion” raises the odds of harsher punishment.
Arrest and televised “confession” of Swedish citizen affiliated with a human rights NGO
A Swedish man in his 30s, Peter Dahlin, a co-founder of the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group (China Action) that organizes training programs for human rights defenders, was detained in early January, on a charge of “endangering state security.” On Wednesday, he was paraded on China Central Television and shown admitting to have broken Chinese laws, in a televised “confession” that has been denounced by rights advocates as coerced.
[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]
According to a statement from China Action, the NGO focuses on land law and administrative law and trains non-lawyers to provide pro-bono legal aid to victims of rights violations. Dahlin is in need of daily medication due to affliction by a rare disease; Chinese state media reports say he is receiving it, but no other information has been available. China’s Foreign Ministry says it is granting Swedish consular officials access to him, although no information has been available on his whereabouts. Read the rest of this entry »
Another Chinese Billionaire Goes MissingPosted: January 7, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China, Crime & Corruption, Global | Tags: Alibaba, Barack Obama, Beijing, Chengdu J-10, Communist Party of China, Counterfeit, Fosun International Limited, Government of the People's Republic of China, Guo Guangchang, Hong Kong, Jack Ma, Rui'an, Wenzhou, Wuzhen, Xi Jinping, Zhejiang Leave a comment
The billionaire founder of Metersbonwe, one of China’s best-known fashion brands, has gone missing, the latest in a series of Chinese business people and financiers apparently embroiled in the country’s anti-corruption campaign.
“The company said in a second statement on Thursday night that it was unable to reach Mr Zhou or the secretary of the board, Tu Ke. The statement gave no further details.”
Metersbonwe suspended trading in its shares on the Shenzhen stock exchange on Thursday while the company said it was investigating reports in the Chinese media that Zhou Chengjian, its chairman, had been picked up by police.
“Mr Zhou is the latest high-profile private sector businessman believed to have been caught up in probes, and his disappearance follows the detention last month of Guo Guangchang of the conglomerate Fosun, which owns Club Med.”
The company is a household name on the Chinese high street and Mr Zhou was China’s 65th-richest man last year, according to the Hurun Rich list, with a fortune of Rmb26.5bn ($4.01bn).
The company said in a second statement on Thursday night that it was unable to reach Mr Zhou or the secretary of the board, Tu Ke. The statement gave no further details.
[Read the full story here, at FT.com]
Mr Zhou is the latest high-profile private sector businessman believed to have been caught up in probes, and his disappearance follows the detention last month of Guo Guangchang of the conglomerate Fosun, which owns Club Med. Read the rest of this entry »
Circuit Breaker! China Halts Stock Market FallPosted: January 4, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China, Economics, Global | Tags: China, China Securities Regulatory Commission, CITIC Securities, CSI 300 Index, Dow Jones Industrial Average, Federal Reserve System, FTSE 100 Index, Guo Guangchang, Hong Kong, SSE Composite Index, Warren Buffett Leave a comment
Yifan Xie and Shen Hong report: China’s stock market regulator announced last month that come the New Year it would introduce a circuit breaker–a forced pause to trading–if shares fell too precipitously. On the first trading day of the year, officials had to reach for the newly installed system, twice.
“The U.S. adopted the circuit breaker system in 1988, and it was only triggered once. The history of China’s circuit breaker is one day, and we’ve triggered it twice.”
An index of the 300 biggest stocks listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen plunged Monday, triggering the circuit breaker and leading first to one 15-minute pause in trading and then a second halt, which closed the markets for the remainder of the day 80 minutes earlier than scheduled.
“Excessive interference with trading will affect market efficiency and become counter-productive.”
— Chief economist Lin Caiyi
The markets opened in negative territory and stayed there as a flurry of bad news arrived: a weaker-than-expected gauge of manufacturing activity and a further slide in the value of the country’s currency. Adding to the bearish mood are worries among investors about the lapse this Friday of a six-month ban on selling shares by major shareholders–those holding 5% stakes or larger in a listed company. The ban was imposed in July last year to stem a meltdown in the stock markets, and its end may lead to more selling.
Markets turned critical 12 minutes into the afternoon session, as the CSI 300 Index fell 5%, prompting the 15-minute suspension. Six minutes after trading resumed, at 1:27 p.m.,the hemorrhaging continued. The CSI 300 index dived further, hitting a 7% limit and bringing the trading day to an end.
[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]
At the close at 1:34 p.m, the Shanghai Composite Index slumped by 6.9% at 3296.66, and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index shed 8.2% at 2119.90.
Caught off guard by the plunge, traders speculated that the securities regulator was conducting a test of the new circuit breaker mechanism. Read the rest of this entry »
A Mysterious Disappearance Chills Hong KongPosted: January 4, 2016 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China, Global, Reading Room | Tags: Alan Leong, Asia, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, CY Leung, Government of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, South China Morning Post, United States Leave a comment
A fifth person affiliated with a bookstore that sells books critical of China’s government went missing last week, raising concerns over Hong Kong’s freedoms.
Fiona Law reports: Hong Kong police are investigating the disappearance of the co-owner of a bookstore specializing in works critical of the Chinese government, that has prompted local lawmakers to voice fears that mainland Chinese law-enforcement agencies crossed the border to detain him.
Police are also investigating three other disappearances related to the bookstore, said John Lee, acting head of Hong Kong’s Security Bureau.
Hong Kong and foreign media have reported that the wife of Lee Bo, a shareholder of Causeway Bay Books, told police on Friday that Mr. Lee had gone missing and that four people who worked for the bookstore or a publisher affiliated with it have gone missing in recent months, including one who disappeared in Thailand.
[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]
“It is terrifying,” said Albert Ho, a pro-democracy lawmaker. “So the mainland police can publicly arrest people in Hong Kong?”
On Sunday, a group of lawmakers and activists marched to the central Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, demanding answers about the missing people. Read the rest of this entry »
Hong Kong Police Restore Cuts Made in Revision of their Official Account of the Deadly 1967 RiotsPosted: December 29, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China | Tags: Alibaba Group, Bagheria, Beijing, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Brookings Institution, Central Conservatory of Music, China, Cultural Revolution, Death of Li Wangyang, Hong Kong, Jack Ma, Mainland China, Pro-Beijing camp, South China Morning Post Leave a comment
Force backs down after being accused of trying to whitewash the city’s history and role played by pro-Beijing radicals.
Christy Leung reports: The Hong Kong police force has made an unexpected climbdown and is restoring its official account of the 1967 riots after causing a storm earlier this year by deleting parts of it.
A source told the Post the missing details would be reinstated on its archived website as early as Friday, and more historical details would be added to make the account “fuller”.
The U-turn was decided at a meeting of the Police Historical Records Committee yesterday.
It reverses a controversial move in mid-September to revise the official version of the riots, during which pro-Beijing radicals inspired by the Cultural Revolution sought to overthrow the colonial government.
The force replaced phrases like “communist militia” with “gunmen” and deleted detailed descriptions of events such as leftist mobs threatening bus and tram drivers who refused to strike.
Police were accused of trying to whitewash history out of political considerations. They were also ridiculed for claiming there was not enough space to publish full details online.
[Read the full story here, at South China Morning Post]
“[We are uploading the original version] to answer our readers’ calls and have no political agenda behind it,” the source explained yesterday.
“We think people nowadays are not into reading bulky and long paragraphs, but since they enjoy reading the full version, we are bringing it back.”
In addition to the original write-up, the history of women in the force and the Hong Kong Police College will be added to the website.
“We want to make the contents ‘finer’ and ‘fuller’, so that people can have a better understanding of police history,” the source said.
It is understood the committee is still reviewing the content and may upload the original version along with the new information on January 1 at the earliest. Read the rest of this entry »
Shrinking Spaces, Rising Costs: Hong Kong Residents Feel the CrunchPosted: December 21, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Economics, Global | Tags: Alibaba Group, Andrew Constance, Augeas, Australia, Bank of Korea, British Empire, Carl Jung, Chief Justice, Donald Tsang, Government of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong dollar, Independent Commission Against Corruption (Hong Kong), MTR, Shenzhen Leave a comment
The average area per capita dropped 29.3% from 2013 to 47.8 square feet in 2015 – not much bigger than a king-size bed.
Isabella Steger reports: For some of Hong Kong’s poorest residents, the tiny subdivided apartments they call home are shrinking– and becoming less affordable.
With the city’s real estate among the most expensive in the world, many low-income Hong Kong residents — sometimes entire families — have been forced to live in so-called subdivided units. These apartments have been modified by landlords to fit multiple tenants and aren’t strictly illegal, but are subject to different structural and fire-safety requirements.
According to a study jointly conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Institute of Future Cities and a concern group for people living in subdivided units, tenants of subdivided units now pay on average around 41% of their income towards rent, compared to 29% two years ago. The average rent is about HK$3,924 (US$506) a month, the study said.
Rents in more central areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon far exceed those of the New Territories, where many poor families are forced to live despite long and expensive commutes.
[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]
According to the study, a 90-square-foot subdivided unit in the downtown Tsim Sha Tsui district could command HK$5,500 (US$710) a month, which works out to be about HK$61(US$7.87) a square foot a month. In a 2011 Wall Street Journal story, a family of four paid HK$4,000 (US$516) a month to live in a 150-square-foot subdivided unit in the low-income district of Sham Shui Po in Kowloon. The unit housed a stove, desk, fridge and bunk bed.
Spaces are also getting tinier in subdivided units, according to the study. The average area per capita dropped 29.3% from 2013 to 47.8 square feet in 2015 – not much bigger than a king-size bed. Read the rest of this entry »
Hong Kong’s Memory HolePosted: November 21, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China, Economics, Global | Tags: 2016 Summer Olympics, Academy Award, Advocate General, Amazon.com, Asia, EUROPE, European Commission, European Union, Facebook, FIBA Asia, Germany, Google, Hong Kong, Hong Kong dollar, Mainland China, Palestine Leave a comment
The right to privacy is usurping the public right to know in Asia’s financial hub.
Financial hubs depend on the free flow of information, and nowhere more so than in Hong Kong, gateway to the opaque China market. So a recent case in which an appeals board upheld the censorship of a court judgment to protect the supposed privacy rights of the litigants sets a bad precedent. The territory is following Europe’s lead toward extreme privacy protection at the expense of access to information.
“The right to be forgotten affects more than media freedom. It prevents investors and entrepreneurs from conducting due diligence and managing business risks, and helps people hide from public scrutiny. That may be good for the reputations of the rich and powerful, but it will hurt Hong Kong’s reputation for transparency.”
Luciana Wong Wai-lan, who now serves on several government advisory panels, participated in a matrimonial case in the early 2000s. In 2010 Ms. Wong requested that the court remove the judgments from its online reference system. The court made them anonymous, but hyperlinks to the judgments placed on the website of local shareholder activist David Webb still revealed her name.
[Read the full story here, at WSJ]
Ms. Wong wrote to Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner for personal data in 2013, and the commissioner ordered Mr. Webb to remove the links pursuant to Data Protection Principle 3 (DPP3) of the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance. Read the rest of this entry »
Hong Kong for ParisPosted: November 14, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, China, Global, Mediasphere | Tags: design, France, graphics, Hong Kong, Illustration, Paris, Paris Attacks, typography Leave a comment
Hong Kong Bookstore Disappearances Shock Publishing IndustryPosted: November 12, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, Censorship, China, Mediasphere | Tags: Beijing, China, CY Leung, Hong Kong, Occupy movement, Pan-democracy camp, President of the People's Republic of China, United States, Wong brothers, Xi Jinping 1 Comment
In a frenetic commercial district of Hong Kong, sandwiched between shops selling vitamins and clothing to tourists, the Causeway Bay Bookstore touts itself as the authority on Chinese politics.
Juliana Liu reports: The tiny shop specialises in selling gossipy paperbacks that are highly critical of China’s leadership. They are particularly popular with mainland Chinese visitors who cannot buy the banned books at home.
But two weeks ago, four men who work for the bookstore and its affiliated publishing house went missing. Their colleagues believe they have been detained by Chinese officials because of their work.
One of their associates, Mr Lee, told BBC News: “I suspect all of them were detained. Four people went missing at the same time.”
Among them is Gui Minhai, a China-born Swedish national who is the owner of Mighty Current, the publishing house that owns the bookstore.
According to Mr Lee, who declines to give his full name for fear of reprisals by Chinese officials, the publisher last communicated with colleagues via email on 15 October from the city of Pattaya in Thailand, where he owns a holiday home.
Mr Gui had written to tell printers to prepare for a new book and that he would send the material shortly. He has not been seen since.
The others are Lui Bo, general manager of Mighty Current, and Cheung Jiping, the business manager of the publishing house. Both have wives who live in Shenzhen, and were last seen there.
The fourth missing man is Lam Wingkei, manager of the bookstore, who was last seen in Hong Kong.
“I am quite certain that the main target was Mr Gui. They wanted to prevent him from publishing that book,” said Mr Lee, who was not privy to what the publisher had been writing about.
[Read the full text here, at BBC News]
“I think the others were taken because they thought the contents of the book had already been distributed.”
Mr Lee said Mr Lam’s wife had filed a missing persons report with the Hong Kong police, who have confirmed the case to the BBC.
Calls to China’s Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong have gone unanswered. Attempts to reach the relatives of the four men have been unsuccessful.
The tiny shop sells paperbacks that are highly critical of China’s leadership and banned in mainland China
Sources close to the families fear international attention may hurt more than help.
Rights groups have expressed concern about the disappearances.
“We think that if the information is true, it is a deeply troubling case and it will have serious implications about the deterioration of freedom of expression in Hong Kong,” said Amnesty International‘s China researcher Patrick Poon.
Freedom of the press is guaranteed in Hong Kong. But many in the publishing business say the Chinese government has begun to exert its influence in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Quod me nutrit me destruit’Posted: November 12, 2015 Filed under: Censorship, China, Education, Mediasphere | Tags: Black people, college, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Free Press, Hot Air, Jazz Shaw, media, Quod me nutrit me destruit, Twitter, University Leave a comment
Liberals’ Response to Dissent: Shut UpPosted: November 4, 2015 Filed under: Censorship, Politics, Think Tank, White House | Tags: Academic freedom, Bill Clinton, Blog, Condoleezza Rice, Facebook, Fire, First Amendment, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Free speech, Freedom of speech, George W. Bush, Hong Kong, Speech, United States Leave a comment
Michael Barone writes: “‘Shut up,’ he explained.” Those words are from Ring Lardner‘s short story “The Young Immigrunts.” They’re an exasperated father’s response from the driver’s seat to his child’s question, “‘Are you lost, Daddy?’ I asked tenderly.”
They also can be taken as the emblematic response of today’s liberals to anyone questioning their certitudes. A response that at least sometimes represents the uneasy apprehension of the father in the story that they have no good answer.
“We are told that speech codes are necessary because some students may be offended by what others say. In recent years we have been warned that seemingly innocuous phrases may be ‘microaggressions’ that must be stamped out and that “trigger warnings” should be administered to warn students of possibly upsetting material.”
It was not always so. Today’s liberals, like those of Lardner’s day, pride themselves on their critical minds, their openness to new and unfamiliar ideas, their tolerance of diversity and differences. But often that characterization seems as defunct as Lardner, who died at an unhappily early age in 1935.
“Beyond the campus, liberals are also eager to restrict free speech. This is apparent in some responses to those who argue that global warming may not be as inevitable and harmful as most liberals believe, and that while increased carbon emissions would surely raise temperatures if they were the only factor affecting climate, some other factors just might be involved.”
[Read the full story here, at Washington Examiner]
Consider the proliferation of speech codes at our colleges and universities. The website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sets out the speech codes at 400 of the nation’s largest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning. The liberals who run these institutions — you won’t find many non-liberals among their faculties and administrations — have decided to limit their students’ First Amendment right of freedom of speech. Read the rest of this entry »
University of Hong Kong Alumni Vow Action to Stop Ex-Minister Arthur Li Taking Over as Chairman of Ruling CouncilPosted: October 25, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Education, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Arthur Li, Chairman of Ruling Council, Hong Kong, University of Hong Kong Leave a comment
Hong Kong University PurgePosted: October 8, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China, Education, Global | Tags: Beijing, China, Communist Party of China, Democracy, Democratic Party (United States), Freedom House, Hong Kong, Pro-Beijing camp, Wong brothers, Xi Jinping Leave a comment
Pro-Beijing Forces Target a Top School’s Leaders to Intimidate Professors.
The new school term in Hong Kong is off to a bad start. A year after university students led mass protests for democracy, the government is taking revenge against pro-democracy voices in the academy.
The crackdown is especially harsh at elite Hong Kong University, where the governing council last week blocked the appointment of former law dean Johannes Chan to the senior post of pro-vice chancellor. Mr. Chan was the only candidate recommended by a search committee.
The problem is that Mr. Chan is a human-rights and constitutional lawyer with moderate pro-democracy views. He has done academic work with his HKU law colleague Benny Tai, founder of the group Occupy Central With Love and Peace, which helped start the street protests last year.
For months Mr. Chan faced a smear campaign, with hundreds of articles in pro-Beijing newspapers condemning his “meddling in politics.” Critics accused him of mishandling a donation to Mr. Tai, but the governing council cleared him of wrongdoing earlier this year. Nevertheless the council denied his appointment last week by a 12-8 vote.
[Read the full text here, at WSJ]
Council deliberations are meant to be confidential, but leaks suggest Mr. Chan was supported by the council members drawn from HKU’s faculty. Read the rest of this entry »
The Future of Hong Kong: Bumpy Road AheadPosted: October 6, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Think Tank | Tags: Beijing, China, Communist Party of China, CY Leung, Hong Kong, Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Pan-democracy camp, United States, Wong brothers, Xi Jinping Leave a comment
Michael Mazza writes: On September 28, protesters marked the anniversary of the start of last year’s Umbrella Revolution, in which 200,000 Hong Kongers took to the streets to demand genuine democracy for their city. The demonstrations ended after over two months of occupation, with the protesters failing to achieve their ends.
Although the democratic bloc in the Hong Kong legislature blocked implementation of Beijing’s preferred plan—the Chief Executive would be directly elected, but with candidates approved by a pro-Beijing nominating committee—it marked a pyrrhic victory. In rejecting what surely amounted to sham democracy, the city was left with its extant political system intact, leaving Hong Kongers no direct say in the appointment of the city’s leader. Read the rest of this entry »
Update: Hong Kong University Staff, Students Hold Silent March in ProtestPosted: October 5, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Education, Global | Tags: Autonomy, Democracy, HKU, Hong Kong, Hong Kong University, Protest, Students Leave a comment
Hong Kong University Staff Defend HKU AutonomyPosted: October 5, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Education | Tags: Autonomy, Democracy, HKU, Hong Kong, Hong Kong University, Protest, Silent Protest March Leave a comment
Right now at university of hong kong, 6 october 2015
Homeless Woman Lay Dead in Hong Kong McDonald’s for HoursPosted: October 5, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Food & Drink, Global | Tags: Beijing, China, Guangdong, Hong Kong, Johnny Depp, Macau, Occupy Central, South China Morning Post, The Guardian, Triad (underground society), Whitey Bulger, Xi Jinping Leave a comment
Woman aged between 50 and 60 entered the restaurant 24 hours earlier, but police were not called for several hours.
A homeless woman lay dead at a Hong Kong McDonald’s restaurant for hours surrounded by diners before authorities were called.
“The subject was certified dead at the scene.”
The woman, aged between 50 and 60, was found dead on Saturday morning and has been held up as an example of the growing number of homeless people who seek shelter in 24-hour restaurants.
“We endeavour to support street sleepers to enhance their self-reliance…the subject is a complex social problem.”
“Officers arrived upon a report from a female customer [that a person was found to have fainted],” said police in a statement.
“The subject was certified dead at the scene.”
Local media said the woman was slumped at a table, 24 hours after she first entered the restaurant in the working class district of Ping Shek.
She had not moved for seven hours before fellow diners noticed something was wrong, according to Apple Daily, citing CCTV footage.
The woman was thought to have regularly spent nights in the McDonald’s, said the South China Morning Post. Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTOS] iPhone 6s Goes on Sale in JapanPosted: September 27, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Global, Japan | Tags: Alaska, Apple Inc, Apple Store, China, Hang Seng Index, Hong Kong, Hong Kong dollar, iPhone, Japan, New Hampshire Leave a comment
Apple fans in Japan finally got a chance to get their hands on the iPhone 6s Friday…
Japan was among the 12 countries and territories where the iPhone 6s went on sale Friday. The new models were available by reservation only in China, Hong Kong, Japan and U.S. stores in tax-free states.
Despite the rainy weather in Tokyo, fans turned out to try the new 6s, including some wearing iPhone-shaped hats….(read more)
Source: Japan Real Time – WSJ
Hong Kong Musicians Urged to Join MTR Protest After Cello Player Stopped for Carrying ‘Oversized’ InstrumentPosted: September 24, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, China, Global, Law & Justice | Tags: Arrest, Cello, Hong Kong, MTR, Musician, Protest Leave a comment
Mission Accomplished: U.S. Drops to 16th on ‘Economic Freedom’ List, Behind Canada, ChilePosted: September 14, 2015 Filed under: Economics, Global, Mediasphere, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Anti-Americanism, Canada, Cato Institute, Chile, Economic freedom, Economic Freedom of the World, Fraser Institute, Hong Kong, Property, Russian Empire, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Examiner, United Kingdom, United States 1 Comment
The top 10: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Jordan, Ireland, Canada, with the United Kingdom and Chile tied at 10.
“The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world after being as high as second in 2000.”
Paul Bedard reports: The United States, ranked second in worldwide economic freedom as recently as 2000, has plummeted to 16th, according to a new report of world economies.
“A weakened rule of law, the so-called wars on terrorism and drugs, and a confused regulatory environment have helped erode economic freedom in the United States, which remains behind Canada and other more economically free countries such as Qatar, Jordan and the U.A.E.”
— Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute
The Fraser Institute’s annual report, Economic Freedom of the World, showed that the country’s drop started in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.
“Economic freedom breeds prosperity and economically free countries like Canada offer the highest quality of life while the lowest-ranked countries are usually burdened by oppressive regimes that limit the freedom and opportunity of their citizens.”
— Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute
The world-recognized report showed that the U.S. fell in several areas, including legal and property rights and regulation.
“The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world after being as high as second in 2000,” said the report issued Monday morning. Read the rest of this entry »
Police Rewrite History of 1967 Red Guard RiotsPosted: September 14, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China, Global | Tags: Beijing, China, Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Lü Jiamin, Mao Zedong, Nicholas Sparks, propaganda Leave a comment
The police have deleted (seen on top graphic) and modified part of the “police history” of the 1967 riots on their website.
The 1967 riots during May to December were started by leftists in Hong Kong following a labour dispute in a San Po Kong factory, after the Cultural Revolution in China started. During the year 8,074 suspected bombs were planted, of which 1,167 were real bombs; At least 51 people died during the riots, including ten police officers, and 802 were injured.
Commercial Radio host Lam Bun was burned to death in his car, and a pair of siblings aged 2 and 7 were killed by bombs during the riots. Read the rest of this entry »
China: Student Leaders Plead Not GuiltyPosted: September 1, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Global, Law & Justice | Tags: Beijing, China, Greater China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Federation of Students, Moral and National Education, Occupy Central, Protest, Unlawful assembly, Wong brothers Leave a comment
Three prominent student leaders of last year’s Occupy campaign have pleaded not guilty in Eastern Court to charges arising out of a protest at the forecourt of government headquarters in Tamar.
The three are the convenor of the student activist group Scholarism, Joshua Wong, the Secretary-General of the Federation of Students, Nathan Law, and the former secretary-general of the federation, Alex Chow.
Wong is accused of taking part in an unlawful assembly and inciting others to do so as well. Law faces one charge of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly, while Chow is accused of taking part in an unlawful assembly.
The offences are alleged to have been committed on September 26, 2014. Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTO] New Weapon in Hong KongPosted: August 24, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Entertainment, Global, Humor, Mediasphere | Tags: Boobs, breasts, Hong Kong, Photography, Weapon Leave a comment
China Stock Markets: Sharpest Dive Since 2007Posted: August 24, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Economics, Mediasphere | Tags: Beijing, Caixin Media, China, Economy of the People's Republic of China, Financial crisis of 2007–2008, Hong Kong, International finance, People's Bank of China, Purchasing Managers Index, Xi Jinping Leave a comment
China’s stock markets suffered their sharpest daily fall since the global financial crisis on Monday, with the government withholding support at a time when investors world-wide have been rattled by volatile selling in China and a slowdown in its economy. As WSJ’s Chao Deng and Anjani Trivedi report:
The Shanghai Composite Index’s loss of 8.5% by Monday’s close was its largest daily percentage decline since February 2007. Today’s performance reminded investors of an 8.5% drop on July 27, when worries mounted that authorities were pulling back on measures to prop up the market.
Monday’s performance erased Shanghai’s gains for the year, reverberated across Asia and weighed on global markets at an inopportune time for China. Next week, it will host world leaders for a memorial parade meant to show off its military power and increasing clout on the global stage. In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping is slated to visit the U.S. next month. But a global selloff was already gathering pace by late afternoon in Asia, with European stocks and U.S. stock futures falling sharply. Read the rest of this entry »