Date
18 October 2017

HKEJ Today: Highlights

Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Wednesday, Nov. 27:

TOP STORIES

Easier rules for China firms seeking listings in Singapore

The China Securities Regulatory Commission and Singapore Exchange Ltd. have entered into an agreement to allow mainland China firms to apply for listings in the Lion City directly. The arrangement ends a previous requirement by the Chinese watchdog for the concerned companies to incorporate offshore before floating their assets overseas. Market observers expect most of the mainland companies seeking a listing overseas will continue to choose Hong Kong over Singapore given Hong Kong’s highly liquid market. A spokesman with the local bourse operator said Hong Kong has its advantages in serving mainland enterprises and that it should be able to remain competitive.

China Shipping Group executives allegedly held in corruption probe

Three former and current senior executives of China Shipping (Group) Co. were said to have been detained by authorities for investigation after certain corruption allegations. China Shipping Development Co. Ltd. (01138.HK) and China Shipping Tanker Co. Ltd. former general manager Mao Shijia {茅士家} is believed to be among the persons being probed, China Business News reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The incident marks the third of its kind in recent anti-graft probes into state-owned enterprises, following moves on PetroChina Co. Ltd. (00857.HK) and China COSCO Holdings Co. Ltd. (01919.HK). PetroChina, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that a Belgian investor has sought legal action against the group in the United States for not disclosing corruption issues before the investigations were exposed.

ECONOMY AND BUSINESS

Li seeks to reassure on economic growth momentum

Premier Li Keqiang {李克強} has reassured that the growth in the world’s second largest economy has remained on track in October and November, despite market concerns about slowing production activities as indicated by the preliminary data of a private index unveiled by HSBC Holdings Plc. (00005.HK). The governor of the People’s Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan {周小川}, has also sought to reassure on the economic situation, saying price levels and employment are both under control. Central bank officials have estimated that the country can grow at a rate of about 8 percent based on fundamentals.

Hong Kong tour groups in Thailand not affected by unrest

About 30 to 40 tour groups currently traveling in Thailand have not been seriously affected by the anti-government protests in Bangkok despite a travel alert in the country, said Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong executive director Joseph Tung. The popular destination of Hong Kong tourists has fallen into chaos amid anti-government protests in Bangkok. No inquiry or assistance has been sought so far, Tung said. The Hong Kong government has been liaising with officials at the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in Hong Kong and the Embassy of China in Thailand regarding the situation.

Cathay Pacific staff union seeks 7.5 percent pay rise

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (00293.HK) and its Flight Attendants Union have started negotiation regarding the extent of pay rise next year, with the staff having requested for a hike of at least 7.5 percent, among three other demands. The Hong Kong-based airline posted a net profit of HK$24 million (US$3.1 million) for the first half this year, which is much better than that in the same period last year, justifying an increase that is much needed to offset a shortfall in pay rises over the past years in comparison to the inflation rates, union representatives said. Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions suggested last week that employers in the city raise staff salaries by 7 percent.

POLITICS

Ex-HKMAO deputy head tipped to head national think-tank on HK, Macau studies

A former senior Chinese official will head a think-tank comprised of more than 200 academics to give advice on Hong Kong and Macau affairs. Chen Zuo’er {陳佐洱}, a former deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs will head the All-China Hong Kong and Macau Studies Association, it is learnt. It is expected to be comprised of academics from Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland. Former head of Hong Kong government’s Central Policy Unit, Lau Siu-kai, is expected to be a vice-chairman. Analysts say the think-tank is likely to conduct studies and formulate detailed proposals on the city’s universal suffrage.

Former anti-graft head tipped to be condemned for meals, gifts abuses

A former head of Hong Kong’s anti-graft body is expected to be given a verdict of “strong condemnation” in a report by a Legislative Council committee that scrutinized a value-for-money audit report by the independent Audit Commission. Timothy Tong, former ICAC director, may be found to have committed wrongdoings related to dinners and gifts he had provided for mainland visitors during his stint with ICAC. The Legco’s Public Accounts Committee raised questions on whether the misuse of public money was part of his plan to pave the way for becoming a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

EDITORIAL

China puts pressure on US, Japan to start talks on Diaoyu row

China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning set off yesterday for training in the South China Sea. The latest move is part of Beijing’s move to put pressure on the United States and Japan for them to start early talks on the dispute over Diaoyu islands, which could help reduce the risk of accidental military conflicts between the two Asian powers. Given the duplication of the air defence identification zones (ADIZ) declared by the two nations, there is a practical need to sit down and talk as the possibility of military clashes has grown. The row over ADIZ could create an opportunity for talks.

COMMENTS

Prospect for 2017 universal suffrage dims, going by Li Fei remarks, Wong says

The remarks on universal suffrage made by a senior Chinese National People’s Congress official Li Fei showed Beijing has set up a set of restrictions in the name of law to ensure people they do not like will not become candidates, former civil service minister Joseph Wong wrote. The result is that the majority of Hong Kong people will have to accept several candidates selected by a small group of people based on their “collective will”. The prospect of universal suffrage for 2017 chief executive election does not look good if Beijing insists on forming the nomination committee modeled on the existing 1,200-member election committee with the new labels of “institutional nomination” and “collective will”.

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