Hong Kong Free Press HKFP https://www.hongkongfp.com Hong Kong's Independent English Language News Wed, 26 Feb 2020 11:40:45 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Hong Kong budget 2020: HK$10,000 cash handout does nothing tackle systemic injustice, says democrat https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/26/hong-kong-budget-2020-hk10000-cash-handout-nothing-tackle-systemic-injustice-says-democrat/ Wed, 26 Feb 2020 11:16:21 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245430 Hong Kong’s democrats have said that the 2020 budget’s showpiece HK$10,000 handout has diverted Hongkongers’ attention from long-term issues facing marginalised groups. Finance chief Paul Chan’s raft of sweeteners announced on Wednesday also overshadowed a 25 per cent increase in the police force budget, opposition lawmakers said. The Labour Party’s Fernando Cheung told HKFP that the instant happiness […]

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Hong Kong’s democrats have said that the 2020 budget’s showpiece HK$10,000 handout has diverted Hongkongers’ attention from long-term issues facing marginalised groups. Finance chief Paul Chan’s raft of sweeteners announced on Wednesday also overshadowed a 25 per cent increase in the police force budget, opposition lawmakers said.

The Labour Party’s Fernando Cheung told HKFP that the instant happiness of a cash handout does nothing to tackle systemic injustice: “One-off measures totalling to HK$120 billion largely benefit tycoons and big corporations,” adding that self-employed workers remain neglected.

Fernando Cheung

Fernando Cheung. Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

Cheung said grassroots people were the biggest losers in the budget as there had been a rise in layoffs, despite Chan claiming his measures were about “supporting enterprises [and] safeguarding jobs.” Social welfare policies such as the provision of 3,000 additional home care service plans for the elderly fell short of satisfying the high demand, Cheung said.

The legislator suggested a HK$30 billion unemployment assistance fund to help low-income families with rent. He also presented a pie chart showing that Chan’s HK$71.2 billion cash handout made up 57 per cent of the total one-off relief measures: “Whilst only 9 per cent went to the grassroots who suffered the most in difficult times.”

See also: HK$10,000 cash handouts for all permanent residents over 18

Cheung was among several democrats who questioned the budget increase for the police, in light of the recent protests: “The police force is the biggest winner… [Chief Executive] Carrie Lam wants to continue governing the city with the police force.”

Civic Party chairperson Alvin Yeung echoed the concern: “A HK$42,647,000 increase in expenditure for ‘specialised crowd management vehicles’? Have we not witnessed enough police brutality?”

Shiu Ka-chun and Fernando Cheung

Lawmakers Shiu Ka-chun and Fernando Cheung holding a placard that says, “Police brutality is the biggest winner.” Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

Infrastructure spending

Lawmaker Tanya Chan said her Civic Party strongly opposed the HK$600 billion Lantau Tomorrow Vision project, which involves the construction of an artificial island for a housing development: “Most government infrastructure such as the high-speed rail link ended up tremendously over budget… The Lantau project would be a huge burden upon Hong Kong’s fiscal reserve.”

Meanwhile, her party colleague Jeremy Tam said the government had taken money from citizens to fund the third runway at the airport, yet had put little thought into assisting the aviation business: “The industry suffered heavily with [Hong Kong Airlines] just laying off 400 employees – and yet not a single cent is earmarked for a sector in deep water.” 

Tanya Chan, Jeremy Tam, Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki.

Democrats Tanya Chan, Jeremy Tam, Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki. Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

Reporters also grilled the democrats on whether they would try and delay the passing of the budget measures by filibustering at the legislature.

“The cash handout could be scrutinised and approved by the Finance Committee independently from the budget,” said Yeung, whilst Tanya Chan added the handout could have been passed last week if it had been included in the coronavirus relief package.

Ray Chan, Leung Yiu-chung, Claudia Mo, Eddie Chu.

Democrats Ray Chan, Leung Yiu-chung, Claudia Mo, Eddie Chu. Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

Democrat Eddie Chu said the budget seemed obsolete in view of the current sociopolitical dynamics as China is shunned over the coronavirus: “I had a feeling that Paul Chan penned the budget three months ago… As the world is shaken by the epidemic, he hinges on the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Greater Bay Area, and the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Pre-budget protest

Shortly before Paul Chan’s budget speech, democrats and other activists rallied outside the Legislative Council Complex.

Leung Kwok-hung

Leung Kwok-hung. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Pro-democracy activist Jimmy Sham called for handout schemes to be widened: “We propose that even those under 18 years old should be granted HK$10,000,” he said, as the economic devastation is territory-wide and affected all members of society.

Members of the Labour Party and League of Social Democrats told the press that people with disabilities were the most vulnerable to economic recessions and suggested setting up a fund for them: “Save people prior to the economy,” they chanted.

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Hong Kong budget 2020: Pro-Beijing camp welcomes HK$10,000 cash handout but urges gov’t to act quickly https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/26/hong-kong-budget-2020-pro-beijing-camp-welcomes-hk10000-cash-handout-urges-govt-act-quickly/ Wed, 26 Feb 2020 10:10:01 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245420 Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing lawmakers have welcomed the relief measures proposed by Financial Secretary Paul Chan in the 2020 budget on Wednesday, but have urged the government to deliver the funds quickly to address the city’s urgent economic challenges amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and […]

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Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing lawmakers have welcomed the relief measures proposed by Financial Secretary Paul Chan in the 2020 budget on Wednesday, but have urged the government to deliver the funds quickly to address the city’s urgent economic challenges amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and New People’s Party said they were pleased to see Chan had accepted their suggestion to introduce a cash handout for all adult permanent residents, among other sweeteners. Both parties said the one-off subsidy showed that the financial chief had responded to some of the demands of the public.

Paul Chan

Paul Chan. Photo: GovHK.

“The Financial Secretary has pledged to hand out HK$10,000 to the general public, the question that comes next would be how to distribute the funds quickly and easily,” said Starry Lee, the DAB’s chairperson.

Regina Ip, chair of New People’s Party also expressed praise: “In addition to providing assistance to individual citizens, the budget has addressed the needs of different industries. Many of them have been promised to receive additional assistance to support their development.”

The DAB estimated that it would take at least two months for the budget to be passed in the Legislative Council and said potential filibustering could delay it further to June or July. They suggested separating the one-off handout from the rest of the budget, and submit it to the finance committee for a speedier review and discussion.

DAB BUDGET 2020

Starry Lee (second from left) and Chan Hak-kan (third from left) of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

“If the public can only start applying for the cash handout in August and receive it in February next year, it will be too late and it won’t solve their urgent needs,” said Chan Hak-kan of the DAB.

The lawmakers also urged the government to learn from the problems they faced during the distribution of the HK$4,000 cash handout scheme in 2018. The programme was criticised for being too complicated as applicants were originally asked to provide proof of address, proof of identity and bank account details. Although the government later scrapped the address proof requirement, the months-long waiting time was widely slammed.

“[I]t was quite… I don’t want to use the word ‘disaster,’ but it really attracted a lot of adverse comments from the general public,” Lee said.

“Online applications would make things easier, ” said Alice Mak of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions. “Unlike the HK$4,000 [Caring and Sharing Scheme handout] last year which took many months, and wasted tons of paper.”

REGINA IP AND EUNICE YUNG BUDGET 2020

Regina Ip (right) and Eunice Yung (left) of New People’s Party.

Both parties said they had received complaints from non-permanent residents, who were not eligible to receive the cash handout. Ip said it would be “fairer” if the cash handout would be made available to all Hong Kong identity cardholders, while the DAB suggested the government use the Community Care Fund to cater to those who are not set to benefit.

See also: HK$10,000 cash handouts for all permanent residents over 18

Although the DAB and New People’s Party expressed support for most of the proposed relief measures, both parties said that more financial assistance could have been included in the budget. The DAB said there was not enough assistance for the unemployed, and businesses could benefit from a rent reduction policy. Meanwhile, Ip said the budget had failed to address the issue of wealth inequality, as well as macro-economic policies to support the city’s economic development in the long run.

Regina Ip budget 2020

Regina Ip of New People’s Party. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Ip also expressed concerns over the predicted HK$139.1 billion fiscal deficit for the coming year, saying Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre would be affected. She added that, if the government’s expenditure continued to exceed its revenue, it would violate the Basic Law, which stipulates that the government has “follow the principle of keeping the expenditure within the limits of revenues… strive to achieve a fiscal balance” and “avoid deficits and keep the budget commensurate with the growth rate of its gross domestic product”.

“If this becomes a structural deficit, and if our recurring expenditure continues to increase, it violates Article 107 of the Basic Law,” Ip said. “But no matter what, I welcome the Financial Secretary to use the government’s abundant resources to provide relief measures for the city’s urgent problems.”

When asked if the budget could boost the popularity of the pro-establishment camp before the Legislative Council election in September, as well as help Chief Executive Carrie Lam salvage her plunging approval ratings, Ip said the relief measures should not be linked with politics.

Lam’s popularity plunged to a new low of 9.1 per cent according to a survey released by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme on Tuesday.

“The cash handout and other measures are for relieving public hardships. It is something that the government should do, with or without the election,” Ip said.

Paul Chan told the press on Wednesday afternoon that the HK$10,000 handouts will take place this summer.

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Hong Kong Budget 2020: HK$10,000 cash handouts for all adult permanent residents among raft of relief measures https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/26/hong-kong-budget-2020-hk10000-cash-handouts-permanent-residents-18/ Wed, 26 Feb 2020 06:00:20 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245376 Hong Kong’s financial secretary has announced a HK$10,000 cash handout for all permanent residents over the age of 18 in a bid to boost local consumption and ease economic woes in light of a fiscal deficit. The relief measure involving an estimated expenditure of around HK$71 billion came amid negative economic growth since the second […]

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Hong Kong’s financial secretary has announced a HK$10,000 cash handout for all permanent residents over the age of 18 in a bid to boost local consumption and ease economic woes in light of a fiscal deficit.

The relief measure involving an estimated expenditure of around HK$71 billion came amid negative economic growth since the second half of last year and the city’s first deficit in 15 years as the economy took a hit from the US-China trade war, large-scale protests and the coronavirus outbreak.

See also: Deficit set to hit a record HK$139 billion next year, says finance chief

But Paul Chan remained confident that fiscal reserves, previously estimated at HK$1.1 trillion, could weather the cost of the handout.

“I consider that, with ample fiscal reserves, the government has to increase public expenditure amid an economic downturn to stimulate the economy and ride of the difficult times with members of the public,” he said as he delivered his fourth budget blueprint at the legislature on Wednesday.

Paul Chan

Paul Chan. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Chan also announced a salary tax cut of 100 per cent for the 2019-20 year up to a ceiling of HK$20,000 – set to benefit 1.95 million taxpayers and cost HK$18.8 billion.

Other relief measures for the public:

  • Rates for residential properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$1,500 per quarter – estimated to involve 2.93 million properties and cost HK$13.3 billion.
  • Eligible social security recipients will benefit from an extra month of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance or Disability Allowance. A similar arrangement will be rolled out for the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy. It will cost around HK$4.23 billion.
  • Lower-income tenants in government public housing will have a month of rent waived, with a total cost of HK$1.83 billion.
  • Exam fees for students sitting the 2021 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination will be waived, at a cost of about HK$150 million.
sophia chan

Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Relief measures for business:

  • Profits tax will be reduced by 100 per cent for the 2019-20 year to benefit 141,000 taxpayers at a cost of HK$2 billion.
  • Business registration fees will be waived for 2020-21, benefitting 1.5 million business owners at a cost of HK$3 billion. Company registry fees for annual tax returns will be waived for two years to benefit 1.4 million firms at a cost of HK$212 million.
  • A concessionary low-interest loan of up to HK$2 million will be provided to enterprises under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme.
  • Rates for non-domestic properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 per quarter in the first two quarters and a ceiling of $1,500 per quarter in the remaining two quarters for each non-domestic property. 420,000 properties will benefit, at a cost of HK$3.2 billion.
  • Non-domestic electricity accounts will enjoy a 75 per cent discount up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 for four months, at a cost of HK$2.9 billion. Likewise, water and sewage costs will be discounted by 75 per cent up to a cap of HK$20,000 and HK$12,500 respectively, costing HK$340 billion.
  • Local recycling firms will see a rental subsidy for six months, costing HK$100 million.
  • Tenants of government properties, government land and EcoPark will see rent discounts of 50 per cent, costing HK$573 million. Rent and fees for eligible operators of properties will be slashed by 50 per cent, costing HK$265 million.
  • Hirers of civic centres under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will enjoy discounts of 50 per cent for six months, costing HK$23 million.

“In preparing this budget, I put the focus on ‘supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stimulating the economy and relieving people’s burden,’ Chan said.

Paul Chan

Paul Chan. Photo: Inmediahk.net.

“Hong Kong may have all sorts of shortcomings, but it is our home which allows diversity and freedom of development. Even if we have been disappointed, we can choose to feel hopeful for our future. Even if we are striving for different goals, we can work together to put aside our differences, make room for resolving conflicts, and drive Hong Kong forward,” he said in his concluding remarks.

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Hong Kong Budget 2020: Deficit set to hit a record HK$139 billion next year, says finance chief https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/26/hong-kong-budget-2020-deficit-set-hit-record-hk139-billion-next-year-says-finance-chief/ Wed, 26 Feb 2020 05:56:47 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245396 Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan has announced that Hong Kong’s spending exceeded income by around HK$37.8 billion in 2019-20 – the equivalent of 1.3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It marks the city’s first deficit in 15 years and a new record. See also: HK$10,000 cash handouts for all permanent residents over 18 […]

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Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan has announced that Hong Kong’s spending exceeded income by around HK$37.8 billion in 2019-20 – the equivalent of 1.3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It marks the city’s first deficit in 15 years and a new record.

See also: HK$10,000 cash handouts for all permanent residents over 18

Paul Chan

Paul Chan. Photo: Inmediahk.net.

Chan said on Wednesday that government revenue could not keep up with drastic increases in expenditure, as the economy took a beating from the US-China trade war, widespread protests and coronavirus outbreak.

The finance chief also forecasted a deficit for the next five years, with an estimated HK$139.1 billion for 2020-21, equivalent to be around 4.8 per cent of GDP. In 2004, Hong Kong saw a HK$63.3 billion deficit in the wake of SARS and an economic downturn.

Chan said that almost HK$120 billion of his estimate related to the cash handout scheme and other one-one relief measures.

Diminishing fiscal reserves

Hong Kong currently enjoys fiscal reserves of HK$1.1 trillion – equivalent to 22 months of government expenditure from this April.

“If we keep running a fiscal deficit, our reserves will eventually be used up. This is something we do not want to see,” Chan warned, adding that such reserves would have to be drawn upon to provide funding already earmarked for a number of projects, such as the two 10-year Hospital Development Plans, totalling HK$500 billion.

sophia chan

Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The financial secretary added that recurrent expenditure – such as administrative costs – continued to rise since the city’s transfer of sovereignty in 1997, from HK$150 billion to HK$220 billion in the first decade, to HK$300 billion in the following seven years, and to HK$400 billion after four years. In the current fiscal year alone, recurrent expenditure increased by about HK$40 million.

“Such rapid growth is not sustainable,” he said, adding that new sources of revenue are needed.

Chan, however, concluded his speech at the legislature on an optimistic note, saying that societal conflicts need to be resolved with patience: ” I believe that Hong Kong is still a fertile piece of land.  The quality of its crops, however, depends on the seeds we sow and the way we cultivate and irrigate it.  I believe that, no matter what our backgrounds, beliefs and aspirations are, we all cherish and love Hong Kong.”

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LIVE: Finance chief Paul Chan delivers Hong Kong’s 2020 budget https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/26/live-finance-chief-paul-chan-delivers-hong-kongs-2020-budget/ Wed, 26 Feb 2020 03:02:01 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245362 Finance chief Paul Chan is delivering Hong Kong’s 2020 budget. Watch live, with English interpretation, on HKFP and follow us on Twitter. See also: HK$10,000 cash handouts for all permanent residents over 18 Tweets by HongKongFP

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Finance chief Paul Chan is delivering Hong Kong’s 2020 budget. Watch live, with English interpretation, on HKFP and follow us on Twitter.

See also: HK$10,000 cash handouts for all permanent residents over 18

Paul Chan

Paul Chan. Photo: GovHK.

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Coronavirus hits more countries as health official warns world ‘simply not ready’ to contain spread https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/26/coronavirus-hits-countries-health-official-warns-world-simply-not-ready-contain-spread/ Wed, 26 Feb 2020 03:00:13 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245431 The new coronavirus epidemic swelled on Wednesday with cases in South Korea surging past 1,000 after deaths soared in Iran and infections appeared in previously untouched countries, prompting dire warnings that the world was not ready to contain it. The virus has rapidly spread in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, even as […]

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The new coronavirus epidemic swelled on Wednesday with cases in South Korea surging past 1,000 after deaths soared in Iran and infections appeared in previously untouched countries, prompting dire warnings that the world was not ready to contain it.

The virus has rapidly spread in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, even as the number of fresh cases and deaths decline at the disease epicentre in China.

south korea virus

A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at a railway station in Daegu on February 26, 2020. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP.

Towns and cities have been sealed off in an attempt to stop the contagion, while hotels in the Canary Islands and Austria were locked down on Tuesday because of suspected cases.

In Iran, which has reported 15 deaths out of nearly 100 infections, even the country’s deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi said he had contracted the virus.

At the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Bruce Aylward, who headed an international expert mission to China, hailed the drastic quarantine and containment measures taken by the country.

But he told reporters that other nations were “simply not ready” to contain the outbreak.

“You have to be ready to manage this at a larger scale… and it has to be done fast,” Aylward said.

The virus has killed 2,715 people and infected over 78,000 in China. There were 52 more deaths reported on Wednesday — the lowest in three weeks — with no fatalities outside the epicentre in central Hubei province.

The National Health Commission also reported a drop in new infections to 406, with only five outside Hubei — a figure that will boost confidence that the rest of the country is containing the epidemic.

In the rest of the world, there have been more than 40 deaths and 2,700 cases.

The disease has now reached dozens of countries, with Austria, Croatia and Switzerland the latest to declare cases.

The epidemic’s disruption has also grown, with stock markets tumbling around the world, restrictions imposed on travellers and sporting events cancelled.

World Health Organization

World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: U.S. Mission Geneva/Eric Bridiers.

The WHO has called for countries to “prepare for a potential pandemic” — a term used to describe an epidemic that spreads throughout the world.

Poor countries are particularly at risk, the WHO has warned.

 South Korea surge 

South Korea reported 169 new infections on Wednesday, raising its total tally to 1,146 — by far the largest outside China — while an 11th person died.

A 23-year-old US soldier stationed at Camp Carroll in Daegu was also infected. Some 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea.

south korea

South Korea. File photo: Pixabay.

The vast majority — 90 percent — of the new infections were in Daegu, the country’s fourth-largest city and the epicentre of the outbreak, and the neighbouring province of North Gyeongsang.

The streets of Daegu — which has a population of 2.5 million — have been largely deserted for days, apart from long queues at the few shops with masks for sale.

Authorities urged the public to exercise extra caution, advising citizens to stay home if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

China quarantined 94 air passengers arriving in Nanjing from Seoul after three people, all Chinese, on the flight were discovered to have fevers on Tuesday.

 Iran, Italy hotspots 

In the Middle East, Iran has emerged as a major hotspot, with three more people dying from the COVID-19 disease on Tuesday.

The country has been scrambling to contain the epidemic since last week when it announced its first two deaths in Qom, a centre for Islamic studies and pilgrims that attracts scholars from abroad.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose country came to the brink of war with Iran earlier this year, said Washington is deeply concerned Tehran “may have suppressed vital details” about the outbreak there.

Gulf countries announced new measures to cut links with Iran in an attempt to stop the spread.

Meanwhile Italy — which has reported 11 deaths and more than 300 cases — has locked down 11 towns and ordered Serie A football games to be played to empty stadiums.

A young man who returned to Croatia from Italy became the first case in the Balkans region.

In the United States, which has a few dozen cases, health authorities urged local governments, businesses and schools to develop plans such as cancelling mass gatherings or switching to teleworking as the country braces for the virus to spread further.


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Traffic jams and long queues as Hongkongers pack hiking trails to escape coronavirus gloom https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/26/traffic-jams-long-queues-hongkongers-pack-hiking-trails-escape-coronavirus-gloom/ Wed, 26 Feb 2020 01:00:51 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245276 Hongkongers have taken to the city’s hiking trails in what netizens have described as a “disease prevention activity” during the coronavirus outbreak. Trails across the city saw huge queues during the weekend sunshine with traffic coming to a standstill around popular destinations such as Sai Kung. First detected in Hubei, China, more than 80,000 people […]

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Hongkongers have taken to the city’s hiking trails in what netizens have described as a “disease prevention activity” during the coronavirus outbreak.

Trails across the city saw huge queues during the weekend sunshine with traffic coming to a standstill around popular destinations such as Sai Kung.

First detected in Hubei, China, more than 80,000 people globally have been infected with Covid-19, whilst almost 2,700 have died from the SARS-like disease. Hong Kong has seen 81 cases, with many companies allowing staff to work from home.

強烈建議想揸車上來大山的遊客想清楚先, 車已泊到出荃錦公路路邊川龍和大山口係重災區⚠

Posted by James Kwok on Saturday, 22 February 2020

Photos and videos of trails crowded with visitors circulated quickly on social media. Long queues were spotted on famous peaks such as Lion Rock, Devil’s Peak and Tai Mo Shan, whilst nearby roads were bumper-to-bumper.

The spectacle came as the city’s entertainment districts remain largely abandoned with the government advising citizens to avoid crowded areas.

Netizens were quick to remark on the irony and share memes. One post by local Photoshop artist Tommy Fung poked fun at how crowded Lion Rock had become.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by My surreal life in Hong Kong (@surrealhk) on

Another meme by local magazine 100 Most compared Hongkongers’ expectations of an escape to the countryside with the frustrating reality.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by 100毛 (@100mosthk) on

The trend also sparked environmental concerns, however, after photos emerged of large amounts of garbage left on the trails.

According to a Facebook post by NGO Green Earth, used face masks, empty plastic bottles and a cigarette box were among the trash their volunteer team discovered on popular routes.

Meanwhile, photos from Vincent Chan showed a group of hikers volunteering to clean up the trails in the Lion Rock Country Park, picking up plastic bags, fruit peel, tissue papers and plastic utensils.

rubbish found on hk mountain trails

Plastic bags, fruit peel and tissue papers were left on Lion Rock’s trails. Photo: Vincent Chan.

Chan said in a caption that it was not the first time he found a lot of rubbish on Hong Kong’s peaks. He noticed many people began to comment on the issue on Sunday, so he joined friends for a litter-pick. Chan said everyone has the responsibility to take away their own rubbish, and people should not take other’s help for granted.

hikers clean up hk mountain trails

Some hikers volunteered to clean up the mountain trails during their hike. Photo: Vincent Chan.

“Even children know that it is wrong to litter, it is a really uncivilised behaviour. Keeping the environment clean is everyone’s responsibility, not just on the mountains,” Chan wrote.

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‘Serious questions to be answered’: EU voices concern over China’s jailing of bookseller Gui Minhai https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/26/serious-questions-answered-eu-voices-concern-chinas-jailing-bookseller-gui-minhai/ Tue, 25 Feb 2020 23:00:36 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245474 The EU criticised China on Tuesday over the jailing of a Swedish book publisher, saying his rights were not respected. Gui Minhai, one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for publishing salacious titles about China’s political leaders, was jailed for 10 years on charges of illegally providing intelligence abroad. “There are serious questions to be answered […]

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The EU criticised China on Tuesday over the jailing of a Swedish book publisher, saying his rights were not respected.

gui minhai

Gui Minhai appears on Chinese state TV. File photo: CGTN.

Gui Minhai, one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for publishing salacious titles about China’s political leaders, was jailed for 10 years on charges of illegally providing intelligence abroad.

“There are serious questions to be answered about this case. His rights, including inter alia to consular access and due process, have not been respected,” a spokesperson for the EU said in a statement.

“The European Union has raised Gui Minhai’s case with the Chinese authorities on numerous occasions, both in private and publicly, including at the highest level, and will continue to do so.”

Gui was snatched by authorities while on a train to Beijing in February 2018, and a foreign ministry spokesman said that since Beijing does not recognise dual citizenship, he was dealt with as a Chinese citizen.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said Stockholm continues to call for Gui’s release and “demand access to our citizen to give him the consular support he has the right to”.

The EU statement said the bloc supports Sweden in the case and expects Beijing to cooperate.

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Hong Kong Free Press shortlisted for Index on Censorship’s 2020 Freedom of Expression Award https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/25/hong-kong-free-press-shortlisted-index-censorships-2020-freedom-expression-award/ Tue, 25 Feb 2020 15:22:22 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245359 Hong Kong Free Press has been shortlisted by the UK-based Index on Censorship for their annual Freedom of Expression Awards. HKFP is up against three other individuals or media outlets in the journalism category, with the winner set to be announced on April 30 in London. The NGO noted HKFP’s 2018 Free Expression Week, which […]

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Hong Kong Free Press has been shortlisted by the UK-based Index on Censorship for their annual Freedom of Expression Awards.

HKFP is up against three other individuals or media outlets in the journalism category, with the winner set to be announced on April 30 in London.

index censorship hong kong free press

The NGO noted HKFP’s 2018 Free Expression Week, which went ahead despite one of the exhibiting artists – cartoonist Badiucao – having to withdraw his works from public display following threats. Index of Censorship also mentioned HKFP’s coverage of free expression issues over the years.

“The organisation’s journalists and employees have been injured during recent protests, have faced arrest and even received death threats. Despite being blocked in mainland China, they’ve gained international acclaim,” the NGO’s website said on Monday.

hkfp annual report

Editor-in-chief and co-founder Tom Grundy said the newspaper was launched in 2015 in the wake of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement as a non-profit outlet funded by Hongkongers.

“We are grateful to be considered for this award and am proud of our team for building a much-needed, independent platform at a time when press freedom is under increasing pressure,” he said.

HKFP is set to relaunch this spring and commit to a new, public Code of Ethics.

HKFP is up against SOS Médias Burundi – a 24-hour news channel in Burundi, Poland’s OKO – an investigative journalism and fact-checking portal, and Marco Ruiz Silvera – a journalist and head of the National Press Workers’ Union in Venezuela.

The winner will be enrolled on the Index’s Awards Fellowship programme and will receive dedicated training and support.

The 2019 journalism award winner was Cameroonian journalist Mimi Mefo.


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Gui Minhai is Swedish, says Stockholm, following claim jailed bookseller sought to reinstate Chinese citizenship https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/25/gui-minhai-swedish-says-stockholm-claim-jailed-bookseller-sought-reinstate-chinese-citizenship/ Tue, 25 Feb 2020 15:04:39 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=245339 Stockholm has confirmed to HKFP that jailed bookseller Gui Minhai is a Swedish citizen, after claims that he had sought to reinstate his Chinese citizenship. Gui was found guilty of “illegally providing intelligence” to overseas parties by the Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang Province on Monday and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Gui was among […]

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Stockholm has confirmed to HKFP that jailed bookseller Gui Minhai is a Swedish citizen, after claims that he had sought to reinstate his Chinese citizenship.

Gui was found guilty of “illegally providing intelligence” to overseas parties by the Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang Province on Monday and was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

gui minhai and daughter angela

Gui Minhai and daughter Angela Gui. File photo: Supplied.

Gui was among five Hong Kong-based booksellers affiliated with Causeway Bay Books, which sold political gossip titles. He disappeared in Thailand in late 2015, only to reappear in mainland China “confessing” on state TV to various crimes. He served two years in prison.

The court on Monday said Gui – who was born in China – had applied to restore his Chinese citizenship in 2018. As China does not recognise dual citizenship, it meant that Gui would have to renounce his Swedish nationality.

However, Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs told HKFP on Tuesday that Gui is still a citizen. They said they noted the claims over his nationality, but “Swedish citizenship can only be renounced after an examination and a decision by the Swedish Migration Agency.”

The ministry added they are seeking official information about the case and are demanding that Gui be released.

“Our Embassy is now putting its full focus on the matter, in part seeking more information and in part to obtain consular access… We will continue to focus our efforts on obtaining his release,” a press officer said, adding that they are trying to send a Swedish doctor to Gui.

Meanwhile, Peter Dahlin – a fellow Swedish national who also appeared in a televised “confession” in China – told HKFP that the sentencing showed that Beijing did not care about “appearances” any more.

Peter Dahlin

Peter Dahlin. Photo: Michael Caster.

“The charge is ludicrous, the only ‘state secrets’ that Gui may have is knowledge about how Chinese agents kidnapped him in Thailand, and about the torture he has endured after being returned to China. It has long been feared that China could not let Gui leave, as it could not let information about his treatment, and kidnapping, come out, and this is just one in a long list of steps they have taken. As for his supposed renouncing of his Swedish citizenship, it has no legal bearing of course, as Gui has only Swedish citizenship, and not Chinese,” he said.


Additional reporting: Tom Grundy.

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