China And Hong Kong: Suspension of Amendments To Fugitive Offenders Ordinance

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

HKSAR Chief Executive announces suspension of amendments to Fugitive Offenders Ordinance

Xinhua
HKSAR Chief Executive announces suspension of amendments to Fugitive Offenders Ordinance

Xinhua

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam announces on June 15, 2019 that the HKSAR government will suspend the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance until further communication and explanation work is completed.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced Saturday that the HKSAR government will suspend the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance until further communication and explanation work is completed.

“I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise,” Lam told a press conference Saturday afternoon at the HKSAR government headquarters building.

The HKSAR government’s secretary for security will send a letter to the Legislative Council (LegCo) president to withdraw the notice of resumption of second reading debate on the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill, and the LegCo will halt its work in relation to the bill until the HKSAR government completes its work in communication, explanation and listening to opinions, Lam said.

The bill, tabled by the HKSAR government at the LegCo in April, aims to deal with a murder case that happened in China’s Taiwan but involves a Hong Kong suspect who has returned to Hong Kong, and to fill loopholes in HKSAR’s existing legal framework concerning mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

Lam said the HKSAR government has been discussing with various sectors of the community in a rational manner and has introduced amendments to the proposal on two occasions to ease the concerns of society and narrow differences, including increasing the threshold for fugitive offenders surrender and introducing additional human rights safeguards.

“My relevant colleagues and I have made our best efforts, but I have to admit that our explanation and communication work has not been sufficient or effective,” she said, adding that the HKSAR government will do more work in this regard.

“I want to stress the government is adopting an open mind to heed comprehensively different views in society towards the bill,” she added.

To deal with the Taiwan murder case, the HKSAR government has been trying to get the bill passed ahead of the LegCo summer recess in July. However, in consideration of Taiwan’s overt and clear expression that it would not accede to the HKSAR government’s suggested arrangement in the transfer of the concerned suspect, the original urgency to pass the bill in this legislative year is perhaps no longer there, Lam said.

“We have no intention to set a deadline for this work and promise to report to and consult members of the Legislative Council panel on security before we decide on the next step forward,” she said.

The bill was originally scheduled to be discussed at a LegCo meeting on June 12. The meeting was postponed due to violent conflicts between protesters and police around the complex of the HKSAR government and LegCo.

“As a responsible government, we have to maintain law and order on the one hand, and evaluate the situation for the greatest interests of Hong Kong, including restoring calmness in society as soon as possible and avoiding any more injuries to law enforcement officers and citizens,” Lam said.

In response to media questioning, Lam clarified that the amendments were initiated and managed by the HKSAR government and it would not withdraw the proposal since the original purposes were right.

The Chinese central government expressed support, respect and understanding for the decision announced by Lam on Saturday.

“We support, respect and understand the decision,” said a spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, noting that the central government will continue to support Lam and the HKSAR government’s governance in accordance with the law and their efforts with people from all walks of life to safeguard Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

Noting that the HKSAR police have always been the protector of Hong Kong residents and society, the spokesperson said the central government strongly condemns relevant violent activities and firmly supports the police in cracking down on such activities and police efforts to safeguard Hong Kong’s rule of law and social stability.

HKSAR Chief Executive announces suspension of amendments to Fugitive Offenders Ordinance

Xinhua

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam announces on June 15, 2019 that the HKSAR government will suspend the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance until further communication and explanation work is completed.

Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the policies of “one country, two systems,” “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong,” and a high degree of autonomy have been faithfully implemented, and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people have been fully guaranteed in accordance with the law, which has been widely recognized.

“I want to reiterate that Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region and its affairs are purely China’s internal affairs that brook no interference by any country, organization or individual,” Geng said, adding that China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests and maintain Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

An official in charge of the liaison office of the central government in the HKSAR said that since she came into office two years ago, Lam has been upholding the principle of “setting no easy goals and avoiding no difficult tasks” and leading the HKSAR government in governing Hong Kong in accordance with the law and assuming a proactive role, which has always been highly recognized and fully trusted by the central government.

The liaison office will remain steadfast in supporting the chief executive and the HKSAR government in governing Hong Kong in accordance with law, maintaining the order of rule of law in Hong Kong society and safeguarding the lawful rights and interests of Hong Kong residents, so as to secure Hong Kong as a prosperous and stable home for all, the official said.

An official in charge of the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the HKSAR also voiced continuous staunch support for Lam and the HKSAR government in governing Hong Kong in accordance with the law, safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and upholding Hong Kong’s enduring prosperity and stability.

The official strongly condemned the violent acts by some people and voiced firm support for the Hong Kong police force to mete out punishment in accordance with law, stressing that freedom is by no means without boundaries, and rights must be exercised within the framework of the rule of law.

The decision to suspend the legislative amendment exercise was also supported by various sectors of the Hong Kong society.

Voicing support to the decision, the Non-official Members of the HKSAR Executive Council (ExCo Members) said in a statement that they would continue to offer their full support for the chief executive, and would call on members of the public to adopt a calm and rational manner when expressing their views, and to safeguard the civilized, free, open and pluralistic society of Hong Kong.

Speaking through a spokesperson, president of the LegCo Andrew Leung said he understood the decision and believed it was made after carefully listening to the voices of various sectors of the society.

Noting that the decision would enable more explanation, he appealed to the public to express their views in a peaceful and rational manner that reflects Hong Kong’s long-respected spirit of rule of law.

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) Chairman Aron Harilela said the HKGCC welcomed the HKSAR government’s decision for it would allow things to cool down and let everyone return to rational debate.

“We look forward to the government continuing to engage in constructive discussions with stakeholders and the public to address and eliminate doubts about the bill,” added Harilela.

Telegram Traces Massive Cyber Attack to China During Hong Kong Protests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

Telegram Traces Massive Cyber Attack to China During Hong Kong Protests

 Updated on 
  • Messaging service swamped by ‘garbage requests,’ Telegram says
  • Intrusions during demonstrations sourced to Chinese addresses
Pavel Durov
Pavel Durov Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Telegram founder Pavel Durov said a massive cyber-attack on his messaging service originated in China, raising questions about whether Beijing tried to disrupt a protest involving hundreds of thousands that erupted on the streets of Hong Kong.

The encrypted messaging app said it experienced a powerful distributed denial of service attack after “garbage requests” flooded its servers and disrupted legitimate communications. Most of those queries came from Chinese internet protocol addresses, founder Pavel Durov said in a subsequent Twitter post.

“This case was not an exception,” he tweeted without elaborating.

Hong Kong is in the throes of political unrest as the Beijing-backed government attempts to force through controversial legislation that would for the first time allow extraditions to China, which protesters fear could be used to squelch government opposition. That proposal has ignited a widespread outcry, sending hundreds of thousands of protesters into the city’s streets and triggering violent clashes when demonstrators stormed the legislative chamber Wednesday.

Pavel Durov

@durov

IP addresses coming mostly from China. Historically, all state actor-sized DDoS (200-400 Gb/s of junk) we experienced coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong (coordinated on @telegram). This case was not an exception.

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Read more: China, Hong Kong Extradition Agreements Show Divided Map

Hong Kong protesters have grown increasingly concerned about legal repercussions as Beijing tightens its influence over the former British colony and the local government prosecutes demonstrators. They’ve relied on encrypted services to avoid detection. Telegram and Firechat — a peer-to-peer messaging service that works with or without internet access — are among the top trending apps in Hong Kong’s Apple store.
Protesters Clash With Riot Police In Hong Kong: In Pictures
Many protesters masked their faces to avoid facial recognition and avoided using public transit cards that can be voluntarily linked to their identities. An administrator of a large local Telegram group was arrested Tuesday for allegedly conspiring to commit a public nuisance, the South China Morning Post reported.

Mass Protests Lead To Postponement Of Hong Kong Legislature's Extradition Law Meeting

Protesters wear protective gear.

Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

The Extradition Law That’s Got Hong Kong Protesting: QuickTake
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council suspended a review of the bill for a second day Thursday amid the continued threat of protests. The city’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, is seeking to pass the legislation by the end of the current legislative session in July.

Telegram was created by Durov, a Russian entrepreneur known for his advocacy of internet freedoms. In 2017, he said the service would be registered with Russia’s communications watchdog after it was threatened by a domestic ban. Durov didn’t immediately respond to a message posted on his private Telegram channel.

(Updates with the bill’s status in the penultimate paragraph.)

Thousands of anti-extradition protesters block roads surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Thousands of anti-extradition protesters block roads surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters

Protesters block roads surrounding government headquarters to stop the passing of extradition bill. Image from inmediahk.net. Used with permission.

On June 12, thousands of protesters blocked major roads surrounding Hong Kong’s government headquarters and legislature in the Admiralty district to prevent lawmakers from presenting amendments to a controversial extradition bill. The secretary of the Legislative Council announced that the scheduled session at 11:00 am would be deferred until further notice after lawmakers were unable to reach the Legislative Council Complex.

Venus Wu@wu_venus

This is not the 2014 . This is now.

Just after Sunday’s million-strong protest, the HK gov announced it would continue to push the . The parliament is to debate it today & this is the people’s way of stopping it.

Pic: Tanya Chan’s FB pic.twitter.com/UUzeK0tSRp

View image on Twitter
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The roadblock protests followed a June 9 rally where over a million people took to the streets against proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment)  Bill. The proposed bill would provide legal grounds for the Chief Executive and local courts to handle case-by-case extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. Protesters believe that the amendments would make it easier for mainland China to arrest critics, dissidents, and even journalists in Hong Kong.

Soon after the rally, the government issued a statement stressing that the administration will continue to proceed with the second reading of the bill on June 12. The government’s hard-line stance triggered a round of violent clashes between the police and hundreds of young protesters who gathered outside the Legislative Council on June 10.

Confrontation after midnight on June 10. Image from Stand News. Used with permission.

The police arrested 31 protesters and took records of the identity of 358 protesters who stayed overnight after the rally. About 80 percent of them are between 16 to 25-years-old.

On June 10, Chief Executive Carrie Lam continued defending the bill and stressed Hong Kong is “duty-bound to address that deficiency”. The president of the Legislature, Andrew Leung, decided that Hong Kong lawmakers would have to vote on the controversial bill by June 20.

The organizer of the Sunday rally, Civil Human Rights Front, called for another round of protests outside the government headquarters to paralyze the government starting on June 12. Student unions from seven Hong Kong tertiary institutions, including Chinese University and Baptist University, have called for students to boycott classes and join the rally. Over a hundred Hong Kong employers from across industry sectors have pledged to either suspend business or support employees who choose to strike.

About 2,000 protesters gathered overnight outside the Legislative Council on June 11 and more protesters joined them the next morning. At around 8:00 am, thousands of protesters occupied major roads (namely Lung Wo Road and Harcourt Road) surrounding the Legislative Council Building. Jerome Taylor, Hong Kong/Taiwan/Macau bureau chief for AFP, reported on Twitter:

Jerome Taylor

@JeromeTaylor

The crowds on Harcourt Road — this is a major artery through the island that passes just next to the city’s parliament

View image on Twitter

Jerome Taylor

@JeromeTaylor

Pepper spray deployed again pic.twitter.com/1wNCzqrYre

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Although the protester’s blockade was able to push back the scheduled session on the morning of June 12, house rules allow the Legislative Council president to resume the meeting with only one hour’s notice.

Hundreds of thousands protest in Hong Kong against the extradition bill

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Hundreds of thousands protest in Hong Kong against the extradition bill

Huge protesting crowd against the extradition bill paralyzed a large part of Hong Kong Island on June 9 2019. Photo from inmediahk.net

Hundreds of thousands of people in Hong Kong took to the streets on Sunday, 9 June 2019, to stop the government from passing amendments to the existing extradition laws – the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance.

The rally started at 2:30 p.m. and it quickly paralyzed a large part of Hong Kong island. Anna Pearce recorded the crowd near Victoria Park, the starting place of the rally:

Anna Pearce@stilltalkin

No to China extradition.. incredible mass protest turnout in Hong Kong pic.twitter.com/DmE643iKVx

Embedded video

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Streets flooded with protesters

The organizer of the rally, Civil Human Rights Front, estimated that there were more than a million protesters in the rally as the scale of the protest was larger than the anti-national security law mobilization on 1 July 2003. But the police said there were about 240,000 in the streets during the peak of the rally. As South China Morning Post reporter Jeffie Lam put it, Hongkongers made history today:

Jeffie Lam

@jeffielam

are making history today. All lanes of the Hennessy Road – including those which police refused to open before – are flooded by protesters against the @SCMPNews pic.twitter.com/UTr2ui7Fix

Embedded video

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Protesters said the proposed amendments would make it easier for mainland China to cause the arrest of critics, dissidents, and even journalists in Hong Kong. They were chanting “no evil law” and calling for the city’s chief executive Carrie Lam to step down.

Protester placard: No China extradition; Liar Carrie Lam, step down. Image via inmediahk.net CC: AT-NC

A social worker told reporter from inmediahk.net that she rallied to defend the people working in the social work sector because under China’s judicial system, those who tried to bring positive change in society would be arrested. Another student protester believes that once the amendment is passed, the city will cease to exist as the constitutional principle of “One Country Two Systems” would come to an end.

Denise Ho (HOCC)

@hoccgoomusic

Today, Hongkonger are telling the world we oppose the Extradition Bill! pic.twitter.com/fNvaBjRhRm

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
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There have been several mass protests against the extradition bill. On 30 March, about 12,000 rallied from Wanchai to Admiralty right before the government presented the amendment bill to the legislature. One month later on 28 April, about 130,000 took to the streets demanding the scrapping of the bill.

The series protests has caught the world’s attention. Many are now monitoring if the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam would withdraw the controversial bill which is scheduled for second reading in the legislative chamber this week.

The amendments were first proposed by the Hong Kong government in February to provide further legal grounds for the Chief Executive and local courts to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements, specifically Taiwan and China. By citing the murder case of a pregnant woman in Taiwan, the government claimed that amending the extradition laws was meant to address ‘legal loophole’ that allow fugitives to escape punishment.

However, legal experts pointed out that the so-called ‘loophole’ was in reality a firewall to prevent crime suspects from being handed over to mainland China where there is no fair trial.

Human rights defenders, journalists, NGO workers and social workers at risk

Various sectors have warned that if extradition requests are processed without legislative oversight, the amendments would provide a legal basis for mainland Chinese authorities to arrest political dissents. This concern was stated in an open letter jointly signed by over 70 non-government organizations:

Given the Chinese judiciary’s lack of independence, and other procedural shortcomings that often result in unfair trials, we are worried that the proposed changes will put at risk anyone in the territory of Hong Kong who has carried out work related to the Mainland, including human rights defenders, journalists, NGO workers and social workers, even if the person was outside the Mainland when the ostensible crime was committed. We are calling on the Hong Kong government to immediately withdraw the bill…

Instead of addressing the concerns raised by the petitioners, the Beijing Liaison Office met representatives of the local business sector and demanded them to back the bill. At the same time, the Hong Kong government gave some concessions to the business sector by exempting nine white-collar crimes in the bill and raising the threshold for extradition from crimes punishable by three years in jail to crimes with a seven-year prison penalty.

But on the other hand, it decided to by-pass the legislative committee-level deliberations and tabled the bill for full legislative council discussion.

The direct intervention of the Beijing Liaison Office and the Hong Kong government’s violation of legislative procedure have given a strong and clear signal to the public that the amendment bill is a controversial political decision which is far from protecting Hong Kong people’s interest.

Under the current bill, foreigners who traveled to Hong Kong could also be handed over to mainland Chinese authorities upon extradition requests. Diplomats from the U.S, Canada and European Union have expressed a concern about this. Against the background of the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, some are worriedthat the amendments would turn Hong Kong into a battlefield of international politics:

The intended effects of the amendments can be regarded as a mirrored counterpart of the legal rights utilised by the US government in Meng’s case [Note: the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Canada upon the extradition request filed by the United State on 1 of December 2018]. If the amendments are passed, then any person who happens to come to Hong Kong can be arrested and surrendered to mainland China with the consent of a court or the Chief Executive, and without deliberation in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

More than 2500 lawyers demonstrated against the amendment of extradition law on June 6. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The Hong Kong government responded by accusing the opposition of misleading the public.

Lawyers stage “Black March”

But among those who have spoken out against the bill were not just opposition politicians but also members of the professional legal sector. On 6 June, the legal sector staged a “black march” against the controversial bill. Dressed in black, about 2,500 lawyers gathered outside the Court of Final Appeal and marched to government headquarters in silence. Prior to the “black march”, both the BAR society and the Law society have submitted opinions to the government demanding an extensive consultation with the legal sector and other stakeholders.

While debate in the legislature has been muted by the Hong Kong government, grassroots opposition voices have taken over. In the past few weeks, social media platforms have been flooded with joint signature campaigns against the amendments initiated by hundreds of university and secondary schools alumni groups, Christian groups, and neighborhood associations.

Hongkongers abroad have also spoken out. Diaspora Hong Kong communities from at least 25 cities, including London, New York, Berlin, Toronto, Melbourne, and Tokyo among others also held a coordinated protest against the amendment bill.

Roydon Ng@RoydonNg

Chants of We Love Hong Kong and We Love Freedom are shouted from central CBD (). Protesters oppose the law that would allow for extradition to mainland China. Police estimate 2000 attending. pic.twitter.com/AycfpKVNjO

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The whole world is now watching if Carrie Lam would redraw or continue to push through the extradition bill in Legislature this week.

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

Media caption Tensions flared up with some lawmakers jumping over tables

Fighting erupted in Hong Kong’s legislature on Saturday over planned changes to the law allowing suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Several lawmakers were injured and one was taken to hospital as politicians clashed in the chamber.

Critics believe the proposed switch to the extradition law would erode Hong Kong’s freedoms.

But authorities say they need to make the change so they can extradite a murder suspect to Taiwan.

One pro-Beijing lawmaker called it “a sad day for Hong Kong”.

Pro-democracy lawmaker James To originally led the session on the controversial extradition bill but earlier this week those supportive of the new law replaced him as chairman.

Tensions boiled over on Saturday, with politicians swearing and jumping over tables amid a crowd of reporters as they fought to control the microphone.

Scuffles broke out in Hong Kong's legislature over proposed changes to extradition lawsImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Opponents and supporters of the bill clashed in the legislature
Gary Fan stretchered out after clashes between opponents and supporters of Hong Kong's proposed extradition law changesImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Pro-democracy lawmaker Gary Fan was taken out on a stretcher

Pro-democracy legislator Gary Fan collapsed and was carried out on a stretcher, while one pro-Beijing legislator was later seen with his arm in a sling.

Why change the extradition laws?

Under a policy known as “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong has a separate legal system to mainland China.

Beijing regained control over the former British colony in 1997 on the condition it would allow the territory “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.

But Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam earlier this year announced plans to change the law so suspects could be extradited to Taiwan, Macau or mainland China on a case-by-case basis.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie LamImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Some critics say Carrie Lam has “betrayed” Hong Kong over the law change

Ms Lam has cited the case of a 19-year-old Hong Kong man who allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend while on holiday in Taiwan before fleeing home.

While Taiwan has sought his extradition, Hong Kong officials say they cannot help as they do not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

Why object to the switch?

The proposed change has generated huge criticism.

Protesters against the law marched on the streets last month in the biggest rally since 2014’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement demonstrations.

Even the normally conservative business community has objected. The International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said the bill has “gross inadequacies” which could mean people risk “losing freedom, property and even their life”.

And Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, told the government-funded broadcaster RTHK last month the proposal was “an assault on Hong Kong’s values, stability and security”.

China: The Worlds Longest Bridge Just Opened: China To Hong Kong And Macau

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORTUNE MAGAZINE)

(DON’T ACT LIKE A FOOL:  JUST AS PRESIDENT EISENHOWER BUILT THE AMERICAN INTERSTATE SYSTEM TO MAKE IT EASIER AND QUICKER TO TRANSPORT MILITARY EQUIPMENT ACROSS THE NATION, PRESIDENT XI JINPING BUILT THIS BRIDGE TO HONG KONG FOR THE EXACT SAME REASON!) (I GOT THIS IN AN EMAIL FROM ANDY  TAI FROM HIS GOOGLE PLUS ACCOUNT)

By HALLIE DETRICK

6:43 AM EDT

Later this week, the long-awaited 34-mile sea bridge connecting mainland China to Hong Kong and Macau will finally open.

In a ceremony on Tuesday that Chinese president Xi Jinping will reportedly attend, the bridge will officially open. Its accolades include the designation of “world’s longest sea bridge,” a $20 billion price tag, nine years of construction, and a whole lot of controversy. Supporters say the bridge will massively reduce the time it takes to travel between the three places, reducing journey times from three hours to 30 minutes. But opponents have concerns about the impact of the bridge.

Autonomy

Some critics see the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge as an attempt by mainland China to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, which is an autonomous region. A Hong-Kong based writer for CityLab described the bridge as “a piece of infrastructural propaganda to announce the unity of China and her former colonies.” The bridge opens amid increasing fears that China is tightening its control over the region. Claudia Mo, a lawmaker who supports greater democracy in Hong Kong, told CNN earlier this year that the bridge was like an umbilical cord: “You see it, and you know you’re linked up to the motherland.”

Who gets to use it

Although the bridge is opening to traffic this week, making practical use of it may prove to be another challenge for citizens. Private cars will need a special permit to be allowed to drive on the bridge, and public transportation will not cross it. Shuttle busses crossing the bridge will cost between $8 and $10 for a one-way trip. Permits may not be easy to come by either. Hong Kong residence will have to vie for 300 permanent permits to drive to Macau, though a certain number of non-permit holders will be allowed to cross each day as well. Permits to drive to mainland China are only available under certain conditions, such as having paid a certain amount of tax on the mainland, having donated to mainland charities, or working for a “recognized high tech enterprise.”

Endangering species

The waters under the bridge are home to the Chinese white dolphin, a species whose population is seriously declining, with only 47 of them seen in the year from April 2017 to March 2018. Experts fear the bridge construction, in addition to expansion of the local airport, have sounded the death knell for the species, and governmental conservation efforts will prove to be too little too late.

The human cost

Nine workers have died in the construction of the bridge and 200 have been injured. Subcontractors carrying out works have been found to be endangering their workers, and questions have been raised as to the safety of the bridge itself, after photos that emerged earlier this year appeared to show concrete blocks from the construction “floating away.” Though officials said the placement of the blocks was intentional, it’s not a good time to have the safety of you bridge called into question.

By HALLIE DETRICK

6:43 AM EDT

Later this week, the long-awaited 34-mile sea bridge connecting mainland China to Hong Kong and Macau will finally open.

In a ceremony on Tuesday that Chinese president Xi Jinping will reportedly attend, the bridge will officially open. Its accolades include the designation of “world’s longest sea bridge,” a $20 billion price tag, nine years of construction, and a whole lot of controversy. Supporters say the bridge will massively reduce the time it takes to travel between the three places, reducing journey times from three hours to 30 minutes. But opponents have concerns about the impact of the bridge.

 

Hong Kong holds opening ceremony for Express Rail Link to mainland

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI SHINE DAILY NEWS)

(THIS JUST GIVES BEIJING A FASTER WAY TO SHIP SHOULDERS INTO HONG KONG WHENEVER BEIJING WANTS TO SHUT DOWN ANY AND ALL ‘FREEDOM’ RELATED RALLY’S)

Hong Kong holds opening ceremony for Express Rail Link to mainland

Xinhua

Imagine China

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, (6-R), the Governor of Guangdong Province Ma Xingrui, (6-L) and other Chinese government representatives officiate at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link at Hong Kong West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong, China, 22 September 2018.

The opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link was held Saturday at Hong Kong West Kowloon Station, one day ahead of the official operation of the first high-speed train from Hong Kong to the mainland.

The opening of the XRL marks Hong Kong’s official connection with the national high-speed railway network, Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said at the opening ceremony.

On the B1 Level of the station, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Tung Chee-hwa, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Leung Chun-ying, Governor of Guangdong province Ma Xingrui, Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Zhang Xiaoming, Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR Wang Zhimin and other officials officiated the opening ceremony.

“Pearl of the Orient” and other songs played by Hong Kong violinist Yao Jue and Hong Kong String Orchestra as well as the video narrating the development of the railway in Guangdong and Hong Kong commenced the opening ceremony.

Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Ma Xingrui, General Manager of China Railway Corporation Lu Dongfu and Chairman of the MTR Corporation Ma Si-hang delivered speeches at the ceremony.

Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Ma Xingrui also unveiled a display embodying the official operation of the West Kowloon Station, the terminal of the cross-boarder high-speed rail trains between Hong Kong and the mainland.

Typhoon Mangkhut Hits Hong Kong/mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong and mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kong residents huddled indoors Sunday and strong winds sent debris flying as Typhoon Mangkhut, the world’s strongest storm this year, carved a destructive and deadly path from the Philippines toward mainland China.

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) raised the storm signal to T10 — the highest level possible — Sunday morning local time, with the city almost entirely shut down.
Fierce winds have already torn off roofs, smashed windows and downed trees in Hong Kong, as authorities warned of the threat of storm surges and flooding from torrential rain.
Mangkhut was recorded packing sustained winds of 173 kilometers per hour (107 miles per hour) and gusts up to 223 kilometers per hour (138 miles per hour) as the storm’s eye passed south of the territory in the early afternoon, according to the HKO.
At 4 p.m. local time, the storm was 110 kilometers (68 miles) west-southwest of Hong Kong, and heading for the surrounding Pearl River Delta, home to 120 million people, the HKO reported later Sunday. Mangkhut was expected to make landfall sometime Sunday evening in southern mainland China.
Along the coast, the gambling enclave of Macau, which was hit hard by Super Typhoon Hato last August, closed all its casinos, and all fishing boats from China’s Guangdong province have been called into port.
A shop owner is rescued by members of the fire brigade from a flooded area of Macau on Sunday.

The storm is expected to be one for Hong Kong’s record books. It’s only the 15th time in the last 60 years that a storm has been classified as T10; the last was for Super Typhoon Hato last year.

On Saturday, it plowed into the Philippines, flattening homes in small towns and villages on the northern island of Luzon. The presidential spokesperson for Rodrigo Duterte told reporters Sunday that 40 people had died.

Harry Roque said most of the deaths were due to landslides and mainly occurred in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The official death toll complied by the Philippines disaster agency still stands at zero as it instituted a stringent criteria for associating deaths with storms following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

The region braces

Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Harbor was hit with a storm surge of more than 3.9 meters (12.8 feet) above chart datum Sunday. Hong Kong’s famous skyline, filled with massive buildings jutting up from the hill, was almost completely obscured as squalls roared through, however visibility has since improved.
More than 550 flights have been canceled at airports in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and more than 200 have been delayed, according to Flightaware.com. Most of Hong Kong’s public transport has been suspended.
Hong Kong authorities have been warning residents about the storm for days. On Saturday, grocery stores were packed with people stocking up on goods. Buildings across the city were either boarded up or had their windows taped in order to mitigate the damage of broken glass.
Other cities around the Pearl River Delta — which includes Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Macau — are on high alert.
Guangzhou, the capital and most populous city in Guangdong province, issued its highest typhoon emergency alert, according People’s Daily, a state-run media outlet. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated. Airports in Shenzhen, a technology hub across the border from Hong Kong, and on the resort island of Hainan have canceled all flights, according to Chinese state media.

Mangkhut slams into the Philippines

Mangkhut struck the northern Philippines as a super typhoon, causing flooding and landslides on the northern island of Luzon.
It made landfall in the Philippines Saturday at 1:40 a.m. local time, packing winds of up to 270 kph (165 mph), 120 kph (75 mph) stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina.
Known locally as Ompong, Mangkhut ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees, blocked roads with debris and dumped water on fields of crops.
More than 250,000 people were affected by the storm across the country, with around half of those seeking shelter in evacuation centers in the country’s north.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will head to the region Sunday to see the damage and recovery operations, presidential Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told CNN.
The most severe damage came in Luzon’s north, a sparsely populated region that’s considered the breadbasket of the Philippines, though areas as far away as Manila — more than 340 km (200 miles) from the eye of the storm — were hit with heavy rains that caused flooding in urban areas.
As of Saturday, the storm had caused 51 landslides in the Philippines’ north. Search crews are looking for people reported missing in the mountainous Cordillera region, Political Affairs Secretary Francis Tolentino said.
Though the storm system has moved on, extent of the damage has been difficult to assess Sunday as fierce winds were replaced by flood waters, blocking access and aid to affected areas. A vital transportation hub in the region, Tuguegarao airport in northern Luzon, was damaged in the storms, according to the Department of Transportation, forcing the cancellation of more than 100 local and international flights.
Mangkhut is expected to make another landfall late Sunday night, hitting the Chinese province of Guangdong near the cities of Yangjiang and Zhanjiang.
From there the system will continue to move westward and will rain itself out over northern Vietnam, which could lead to some flooding there early next week.

How Does Centrally Planned China Raise Capital?-Answer, Hong Kong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES INVESTING MARKET MOVES)

 

Investing #MarketMoves

How Does Centrally Planned China Raise Capital?

I write financial newsletters for investors on how to profit in Asia.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

A general view from Victoria Peak shows Victoria Harbour and the skylines of the Kowloon district (background) and Hong Kong island (foreground) on July 3, 2017. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Through careful planning and strategic economic policy reforms, mainland China has evolved from a country struck by poverty to the world’s second largest economy. But don’t think this was solely the Chinese bureaucrats’ doing.  The U.K.’s special “present” to China proved to be essential to the story of China’s miraculous development.

In 1997, Tony Blair, who was U.K.’s prime minister at the time, went to Hong Kong to give the city back to Beijing. 156 years of colonial rule had completely transformed the city.

What was once a backwards fishing village, was now one of the worlds’ most important financial hubs.

Hong Kong currently has the highest concentration of international banks in the world. The 71 largest international banks and almost 300 international fund management companies are housed in Hong Kong. The island also has most beneficial legal regulations for both residents and companies.

China basically saw Hong Kong attending a 150 yearlong financial course. The financial powerhouse now belongs back to the Middle Kingdom that uses it to funnel foreign capital into its centrally planned economy. Something the mainland wasn’t able to do by itself.

Never before has a centrally planned economy ever received such a precious gift as Hong Kong.

How Hong Kong feeds China

Companies in planned economies – like China’s – typically have a hard time raising capital. That makes Hong Kong a key factor in China’s economic development.

With its leading financial institutions in place, Hong Kong is able to raise capital unhindered by political or economic instability. A problem free market economies like in the U.S. generally have to deal with.

Four years before Hong Kong was given back to China, it was responsible for 27% of China’s GDP. Let’s put this in perspective. At the time, only 6.5 million people lived in Hong Kong while mainland China had a population of 1 billion people. It’s easy to see that Hong Kong’s impact on China’s economic growth was tremendous.

The mainland did catch up over time as the graph below clearly illustrates. By 2017, Hong Kong accounted for merely 3% of the GDP.

One Road Research

Hong Kong’s Share of China’s GDP

Hong Kong’s return in 1997 coincided with the dramatic rise of China’s GDP.

One Road Research

China’s GDP in Current US$

China’s economic growth was partially due to twenty years of export-oriented policies from Beijing. But without Hong Kong’s well-established financial markets, necessary funds couldn’t have been raised.

32 Missing After Ships Collide Off China’s Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

The Panama-registered tanker "Sanchi" is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China's eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
The Panama-registered tanker “Sanchi” is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China’s eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
Korea Coast Guard/AP

By GERRY SHIH / AP

9:49 AM EST

(BEIJING) — An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s east coast, leaving the tanker’s entire crew of 32 missing and causing it to spill oil into the sea, authorities said Sunday.

Chinese authorities dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene after the collision, which happened late Saturday. The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and a plane to help search for the missing crew members — 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257 kilometers (160 miles) off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport said.

All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, were rescued, the ministry said. The Crystal’s crew members were all Chinese nationals.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision.

State-run China Central Television reported Sunday evening that the tanker was still floating and burning, and that oil was visible in the water.

It was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil. The size of the oil slick caused by the accident also was not known.

Earlier Sunday, Chinese state media carried pictures of the tanker on fire with large plumes of smoke.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 metric tons (150,000 tons, or nearly 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels into Prince William Sound off Alaska in 1989.

The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the U.N.-run International Maritime Organization. The IMO listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd., on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Co., a publicly traded company based in Tehran. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

An official in Iran’s Oil Ministry, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said 30 of the tanker’s 32 crew members were Iranians.

“We have no information on their fate,” he said. “We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.”

The official said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and had been rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co. He said the tanker was on its way to South Korea.

Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil giant Total. Total did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker Co. in less than a year and a half. In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the Singapore Strait, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spill.

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