Simran Sawhney, research analyst, and Yang Jingwen, assistant operations manager, Civic Exchange, in Stand News (December 15, 2021) – original article longer available
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region)
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In October 2021, the government issued the "Hong Kong Climate Action Blueprint 2050", outlining a mid-term goal towards carbon neutrality. Yet, the blueprint only focuses on the continuation and improvement of existing policies. The government should instead formulate a science-based, long-term comprehensive climate policy.
The government should seek to develop long-term carbon reduction strategies which should include researching low-carbon power generation technology, exploring the possibility of applying hydrogen energy, carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy storage and other technologies.
The government should also consider setting up an inter-departmental working group to formulate a green hydrogen energy policy for Hong Kong. As the current technology in this area remains expensive and immature, the government should consider providing subsidies and formulate carbon pricing to reduce the cost
Meanwhile, as Hong Kong’s renewable energy resources are limited, fossil fuels will still be required for power generation. This means that CCS technologies will be indispensable. Again, the cost of such technology remains prohibitively expensive for commercial application. The government and power companies, therefore, should actively participate in relevant R&D projects to help promote its development.
As more types of energy become available, balancing power supply will become more challenging. The government needs to consider different options, including improving Hong Kong’s domestic power-grid links, connecting the China Southern Power Grid, and increasing energy storage capacity to maintain a stable power supply.
Ralph Yau, Founder of Infinity Montessori Academy, in am730 (October 29, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: @KashungWis on Twitter)
An Olympic athlete took a group photo while visiting a primary school. Netizens were surprised to see that, in this photo, transparent plastic partitions had been installed on the front, left and right sides of each student’s desk. The Education Bureau only recommends – but does not require – the installation of such partitions in classrooms. Instead, students are required to wear masks and socially distance. The use of such partitions is a prime example of excessive-prevention and fails to consider the needs of students themselves.
The transparent plastic partitions are low quality and will have an impact on students’ vision. The brightness of the light passing through the partitions is also greatly reduced. Research has found that the incidence of myopia in school children is now 2.5 times that before the epidemic. It is believed that these plastic partitions are contributing to vision damage in a similar way as wearing a pair of very low-quality glasses. If students cannot see clearly, they will be less able to study.
Some British and American scholars have claimed that partitions not only have no effect on preventing the spread of the virus but can also become a means for the virus to spread. As the partitions obstruct the air flow, ventilation will be unable to introduce fresh air. Contaminated droplets therefore risk being concentrated in this "dead zone".
All partitions in the classroom should be removed. Hong Kong children deserve better. Yet now, they are lagging behind. Schools should follow educational principles, while the authorities should explain the relevant measures to parents, so as to not have a negative impact on children’s learning and development.
Chen Duanhong, Dean of the Hong Kong and Macau Research Institute of Peking University and Vice President of the National Hong Kong and Macau Research Association, in HK01 (December 13, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Gaugear Msierpllo)
Many have been pessimistic about the voter turnout rate for the Hong Kong Legislative Council elections on December 19, 2021. Whatever happens, there is no doubt that these polls are a testament to the Hong Kong spirit.
Hong Kong should cherish the special constitutional arrangement of “one country two systems”. Indeed, according to Article 23, the central government has been generous to delegate exclusive legislative power to Hong Kong. Yet, many have been slanderously criticizing the central government and causing trouble in the political arena and the media to gain power and seek wealth.
One of the key considerations for China to implement “one country, two systems” was to protect Hong Kong's capitalist society. The Basic Law exists to secure prosperity and stability, which has been supported by entrepreneurship and the Hong Kong spirit.
A perfect democracy must recognize multiple electoral units, not just individual citizens. The design of the political system must reflect diversity and consider the interests of all sectors of society. The functional representation system is a unique characteristic of Hong Kong’s democratic system. It includes all industries, with most practitioners are represented.
Some people think that the new electoral system has expanded functional representation and squeezed the proportion of constituency direct elections, thus prompting voters not to participate in elections Clearly, there remains tension between functional representation and equality so a balance must be found. But it is only through turning up to vote that society’s preferences can be heard.
Nelson Chow Wing-sun, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Social Work and Social Administration at The University of Hong Kong, in Ming Pao (August 13, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: HUI YT / Shutterstock.com)
The changes that have occurred in Hong Kong over the past year have made some consider emigrating. The current wave of emigration may not stop in the short term. For Hong Kong to turn a new page, society must re-understand the meaning of "one country, two systems" and embrace their national identity. Since the return of sovereignty to China in 1997, Hong Kong people have mostly focused on defending the systems and values left over from the British colonial era. They have, therefore, overlooked their new “one country” national identity. The government must do more than just prevent social turmoil if they expect to ease the wave of emigration. There are several ways to do this:
First, with the National Security Law enacted last year, order in society has returned. But stopping violence and curbing chaos is not enough. The government must win the support of the people so that they can have confidence in the future of Hong Kong.
Second, the government should implement various programs to improve people's livelihood. The government should address problems such as the housing shortage and the lack of care for the elderly, rather than just make statements. Only through this can society feel that the government is determined to improve their lives and put their wellbeing first.
Finally, the government should redefine the values of Hong Kong people. While Hong Kong people’s pursuit of democracy, freedom and the rule of law are not wrong in themselves, the relevant interpretations of them have unfortunately been distorted. The most difficult task, therefore, is to reshape the values that are in line with the current situation in Hong Kong, making them the basis for uniting society and once again encouraging people to seek common ideals and goals.
朱家健 (Zhu Jiajian), member, Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, in Hong Kong Commercial Daily (August 3, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region)
Hong Kong police arrested a man suspected of booing the national anthem while it was being played. The incident took place in a shopping mall that was broadcasting a medal ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics when the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region flag was raised after a local fencing competitor won the gold.
This was the first time someone has been arrested on suspicion of violating the National Anthem Ordinance since its implementation. According to the law, the national anthem is a symbol and emblem of the People's Republic of China. All individuals and organizations should play and sing the national anthem on appropriate occasions and respect it. The law safeguards the dignity of the national anthem and regulates its use. It strengthens citizens' concept of the nation and promotes patriotism.
The act of booing the national anthem while it is played is a violation of the ordinance and anyone who commits this criminal offence, upon conviction, may be liable to a fine of HK$50,000 (US$6,400) and three years’ imprisonment.
Following the incident in the mall, the Hong Kong government should promote the national anthem so that all sectors of society can grasp its history and meaning. Respect for the national anthem should be demonstrated from the heart. When singing the national anthem, Hong Kong people must both appreciate and admire it.
Simon Hoey Lee, member of the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, in HK01 (March 26, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Samuel Wong)
In 2004, a group of citizens drafted a declaration of Hong Kong's core values, which they stated were "freedom and democracy, the rule of human rights and the rule of law, fairness and justice, peace and love, integrity and transparency, diversity and tolerance, respect for individuals, and professionalism". These must be upheld for Hong Kong’s continued development, they asserted.
This stirred up some controversy then as these values were based on those of Western democratic societies and failed to take into account many of the unique elements of Hong Kong. In particular, the focus on individualism meant that the importance of the hard work of past generations of Hong Kong citizens were overlooked. The "Lion Rock Spirit", for example, which embodies hard work and solidarity, was a factor behind Hong Kong’s rise.
It goes without saying that the rule of law is the basic core value of Hong Kong. It covers human rights, justice, peace, benevolence, honesty and tolerance. Democracy, however, never existed in Hong Kong under colonial rule, and only part of a democratic system was introduced two years before the handover. As such, democracy cannot be regarded as a core value.
Democracy is not a panacea. It cannot guarantee the prosperity of society. The rule of law, however, can bring security and social stability, through which wealth can accumulate and the economy can develop. Singapore and Hong Kong do not figure very highly in assessments of democracy, yet they have good judicial systems and are at the top of the global prosperity rankings. By contrast, India and the Philippines rank higher in democracy, yet their levels of rule of law and prosperity lag far behind.
Democracy is inherently good. But without an in-depth understanding, the pursuit of “Western democracy” undermines Hong Kong’s established rule of law traditions.
Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, Legislative Councillor and barrister, in Ming Pao (March 18, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China)
The National People’s Congress (NPC) has adopted the decision to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system by eliminating radical pro-independence political forces. This will ensure that only capable patriots, including those who are not in the pro-establishment camp, can participate in Hong Kong’s governance. One of the expected consequences of this decision is that moderate and rational voices of the opposition will no longer be bullied and refuted by the radical forces. The diverse voices among the patriotic camps can resume cooperation and Hong Kong's political landscape can finally return to normal.
Radicalism and violence have spread like a virus among the opposition camp over the past decade. Due to the proportional representation system of Legislative Council (Legco) elections, increasing numbers of radical voices have gained seats with just a low percentage of the vote. Over the last two years, all opposition parties have become radical, and parliament has seen increased friction. As a result, the ability of the government to improve people's livelihoods has almost become paralyzed.
Because of the NPC decision, the number of parliamentarians will increase and there will be greater room for cooperation. Legco will also have more seats and operate a new channel to join the Council. Candidates must be social leaders who have expertise, ability and willingness to serve the public before they can be approved by the election committee to join. This will ensure the election of patriots and improve the overall quality of governance in Hong Kong.
It is hoped that a healthy and functioning Legco can return to serve Hong Kong. If people’s livelihoods can be improved, the public will come to understand that the decision to improve the electoral system will have helped establish a solid foundation for the future development of Hong Kong.
Lo Man-tuen, Chairman of Wing Li Group (International) Ltd, Vice Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and Executive Director of the Hong Kong Association for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, in Ming Pao (February 22, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: David Dennis)
Since the implementation of the National Security Law (NSL), the issue of “anti-communism” in Hong Kong has again garnered attention. The term specifically refers to those who deny the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) leadership. There are at least two reasons on why anti-communism must be prohibited in Hong Kong.
First, anti-communism poses significant harm to "one country, two systems". Opposing the basic system of the country led by the CCP is against "one country, two systems". If Hong Kong does not prohibit anti-communism, "one country, two systems" will not be able to guarantee stability or long-term development.
Second, on a practical level, the introduction of the NSL means that the issue of anti- communism can no longer avoided. This is because Article 1 of China’s Constitution clearly stipulates that “the socialist system is the fundamental system of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)." Articles 22 and 23 of the NSL state that "overthrowing and undermining the fundamental system of the PRC established by the Constitution" is a crime of subverting state power. As a result, anti-communist speech and actions are illegal and must be investigated in accordance with the law. Against this backdrop, “anti-communists” will no longer be eligible to run for elections or to enter the establishment of the Hong Kong. This will become political law, according to Article 6, paragraph 3, of the NSL.
Finally, school education in Hong Kong is Westernized and full of anti-communist content. The school system must therefore also prohibit anti-communism by eliminating relevant courses and ensuring that national education courses cultivate respect for the leadership of the Communist Party and are compatible with "one country, two systems". This is the basic premise of prohibiting anti-communism in Hong Kong and the Special Administrative Region government should attach great importance to it.
James Wang, Research Director at the Bay Area Hong Kong Centre, in Ming Pao (March 8, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: johnlsl)
At the beginning of 2019, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) proposed that China actively promote the expansion of metropolitan areas including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area. This national strategy will have a significant long-term impact on Hong Kong for several reasons.
First, Hong Kong will continue to be favored as an important area for the overall prosperity of China. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has recognized Hong Kong and Shenzhen jointly as the world's second largest city cluster in terms of innovation capabilities, further illustrating the important role Hong Kong plays in the region.
Second, as Hong Kong and Shenzhen are neighbours, this supports the development of a twin-city metropolitan area. At the end of 2019, Shenzhen’s population density was about 6,725 people per square kilometer, while Hong Kong’s was approximately 6,800 people per square kilometre. When combined, the two are the most densely populated metropolitan area in the world, surpassing even Tokyo with 6,100 people per square kilometre. Both cities therefore have a great deal to learn from each other in terms of city planning.
Third, Hong Kong will be able to cooperate closely with the other parts of the Greater Bay Area (particularly Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou) in addressing issues relating to environmental safety and carbon emissions. In addition, there will be a strengthening of collaboration in other important areas such as public health and epidemic control. Regional issues require successful cooperation. The many advantages of this national strategy will clearly outweigh the disadvantages.
Shih Wing-ching, Chief Executive, Centaline Group, and owner of the am730 newspaper, in am730 (February 26, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: KM Asad/European Union)
On the grounds that Hong Kong people have been unfairly treated politically and are not granted their political rights, the UK government decided to allow those who hold or have the right to hold British National (Overseas) passports to qualify for right of abode in the UK. The British view this as a moral commitment to the people of a former colony.
The persecution that the Rohingya in Myanmar suffer is far more serious than that of Hong Kong people. If the UK is to perform its moral duties towards the people of Hong Kong, why not do so for the Rohingya, too? In fact, the British are more responsible for their situation. The British moved them from what is now Bangladesh to the northwest of Myanmar. Because the Rohingya are different from the Burmese in appearance, culture and religion, they have been unable to integrate successfully into Myanmar society. Ethnic conflicts have persisted. When it comes to the Rohingya issue, the British were the initiators.
Recently, the problems of the Rohingya have intensified. Myanmar’s government has sent troops to suppress them. Villages have been burned down and citizens killed. Their situation is far worse than that of the dissidents in Hong Kong. While dissidents in Hong Kong have lost their right to stand for election, the Rohingya do not even have the right to citizenship or survival.
The reason why the UK is unwilling to assist the Rohingya is simple: They have no assets to bring to the UK. Most of them have limited skills to earn a living and may become burden to the state. Hong Kong citizens who intend to immigrate to Britain must understand that the UK’s willingness to accept them is not based on morality or responsibility, but merely on political and economic calculations.
Gu Minkang, Council Member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, in Hong Kong Commercial Daily (February 11, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Hong Kong Bar Association)
The Hong Kong Bar Association has stirred up controversy yet again by electing as its chairman Paul Harris, a British citizen with political ties. Harris represented the UK’s Liberal Democrats as an Oxford City councillor between 2018 to 2021, during which time he expressed support for the Hong Kong protests. In 1995, Harris founded the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, which has received support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the US.
The Bar Association was established in accordance with the Hong Kong Societies Ordinance. Article 8 of the Ordinance stipulates that if an officer of a society “reasonably believes that the prohibition of the operation or continued operation of a society or a branch is necessary in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”, they then “may recommend to the Secretary for Security to make an order prohibiting the operation or continued operation of the society or the branch”. Hong Kong barristers should therefore call for Harris to resign as chairman.
Due to "one country, two systems", it is possible for foreigners to chair the Bar Association. The association, however, check the political background and character of the chairman candidates to ensure that those who are "anti-China” cannot hold such positions. At the same time, the government should consider setting up necessary "safety valves".
This decision also has major bearing on the election of Hong Kong judges, who are elected in accordance with the Judicial Officers Recommendation Committee Ordinance. Under normal circumstances, the chairman of the Bar Association serves as member of the committee. To prevent persons with political positions from exerting undue influence on the committee, it is necessary for the government to refrain from appointing individuals like Harris.
Francis Lee Lap-fung, Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Chinese University of Hong Kong, in Ming Pao (February 1, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region)
The Hong Kong Institute of Public Opinion has published its latest report on identity. According to the 2019 survey, 55.4 percent of respondents described themselves as a “Hong Konger”, while only 10.9 percent believed that they were “Chinese”, and 32.3 percent chose a mixed identity. In 2020, the proportion of people who chose "Hong Konger" dropped to 44.2 percent, while the proportion of people who chose "Chinese" rose slightly to 15.1 percent. These survey results may be welcomed by the government, yet it should be noted that among the 18 to 39-year-old citizens, more than 70 percent of the people still identified as a "Hong Konger".
When citizens were asked to score their Hong Kong and Chinese identities separately, the score for Chinese identity had fallen from 57.3 points to 54.9 between 2019 and 2020. Hong Kong identity scored much higher at 82.6 points in 2019 but fell to 78.7 in 2020. In the first ten years after the handover, there existed a significant positive correlation and a complementary relationship between these two scores (i.e., those who identified themselves strongly as Hong Kong people were more likely to view themselves as Chinese).
This complementary relationship had diminished in recent years and was no longer present in the 2018 survey, particularly among young people aged between 18-39 years old, where a strong Hong Kong identity correlated with a weak Chinese identity, making the two identities mutually exclusive. In 2020, the “Hong Konger” identity has declined. Yet, this has not resulted an increase in the identity score for “Chinese”. Meanwhile, the two identities of “Hong Konger” and “Chinese” are now not as mutually exclusive as before, suggesting that some citizens feel that Hong Kong is becoming more and more "mainlandized".
Chan King-cheung, veteran journalist, in Ming Pao (January 6, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region)
The Chinese government took the initiative to establish Hong Kong’s national security law in 2020. This represents a reshuffle with Beijing now completely controlling the decision-making power of the entire special administrative region (SAR). Some believe that this was the result of the months of protests in Hong Kong against the extradition bill. Looking back at developments over the past few years, however, there were several early signs that pointed to this development.
In 2014, Beijing published a white paper which asserted that the central government has "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong. According to the interpretation of mainland scholars, comprehensive jurisdiction refers to a sovereign state over its territory. Beijing clearly stated that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy is limited to that which the central government grants.
Since the introduction of the National Security Law, Hong Kong has formally become part of the entire mainland system. Even in the economic, trade and financial fields, it is necessary to cooperate with national policies and safeguard national security. The culture of officialdom will also gradually shift from the traditional British civil-service system to the "leading cadre" model of mainland China.
Many Hong Kong people are now considering emigrating as the SAR has become increasingly unrecognizable. Hong Kong has traditionally been a bridge between the mainland and the West. Today, Hong Kong has taken a supporting role to the mainland. If this continues, Hong Kong will lose its former glory and its prospects are dire.
Allan Au Ka-lun, journalist, in Apple Daily (December 24, 2020)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Jimmy Siu / Shutterstock.com)
Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal (CFA) has ruled that the government's decision to use the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO), a colonial-era law, to ban face masks at demonstrations and public meetings during the height of the 2019 pro-democracy protests was constitutional and aimed to prevent any gathering from deteriorating into violence.
Pro-democracy activists had sought a judicial review on the grounds that the emergency law gave the government too much power. The CFA, however, concluded that the Legislative Council (Legco), the Basic Law and the judicial system could still effectively "restrict" government powers. But this statement is out of touch for thinking that Legco is a normal legislative body, ignoring that it has always been weak in checks and balances, and has become more of a rubber stamp.
The strangest part of the judgment was where the CFA discussed whether the decision to ban facemasks was constitutional and reasonable. This, however, relates to the specific "emergency" period in 2019 and today, more than a year later, there is no such situation in Hong Kong. Yet the law remains in place. This is clearly excessive and disproportionate, and the CFA has failed to deal with this issue.
How long will the Hong Kong government keep invoking the ERO? The power to abolish the mask law is in the hands of Legco and government.
Shih Wing-ching, Chief Executive, Centaline Group, in am730 (December 16, 2020)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Alejandro Reyes)
Opposition figures who have fled overseas continue to lobby Western governments to sanction Hong Kong in the belief that if Hong Kong’s global financial center status would be threatened and the Special Administrative Region (SAR) government would be forced to give in. Furthermore, they believe that if Hong Kong loses this position, it will become a burden to China.
Beijing understands that the various restrictive measures adopted by the US in the past have not been effective and have sometimes even backfired. For example, when the US announced measures to restrict Chinese companies from listing in the US, many Chinese companies decided to list in Hong Kong instead. Many Chinese companies then chose Hong Kong as their secondary listing market. This resulted in a substantial increase in trading volume on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Financial circles in the US are now starting to worry that New York's status as an international financial center cannot be maintained without Chinese firms being allowed to go public in the US.
Chinese companies have a huge domestic market, impressive returns and strong competitiveness in the international market. Investors will not give up investing in Chinese companies simply because of the opposition of the US government. For this reason, many international-level investment banks expect that funds will gradually flow out of the US market and into the Chinese market (including Hong Kong). This scenario is completely different from Hong Kong's losing its status as a financial center.
Ultimately, financial centers respond to the real economy. As long as Hong Kong can continue to provide better property-rights protection, a freer trading environment, and a higher level of rule of law, Hong Kong's status as a global financial center is safe for the foreseeable future.