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, Jan. 22:

TOP STORIES

Alibaba average daily tax payment tops 20 million yuan

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has paid more than 20 million yuan (US$3.31 million) in tax on average per day last year, chairman Jack Ma told his staff in an internal letter. The figure translates to about 7.3 billion yuan of tax for the whole year, likely topping that paid by rival internet firms Tencent Holdings Ltd. (00700.HK) and Baidu Inc. (BIDU.US). The three mainland-based internet giants are said to pay a combined 18.5 billion yuan of tax for last year.

China South City seeks to expand online platform with Tencent

Interview: China South City Holdings Ltd. (01668.HK) chief financial officer Stephen Fung said the company is preparing to give a big push to the development of its online platform csc86.com, seizing collaboration opportunities with Tencent Holdings Ltd. (00700.HK) which has entered into an equity investment agreement with the trade and logistics firm. China South City is also aiming to increase the number of its tenants to at least 300,000 from about 10,000 in three years, heralding an annual rental income of about 1 billion yuan, compared to a range of about 300 million to 400 million yuan currently.

Hong Kong named least affordable city for housing

Hong Kong has been named the least affordable city for home ownership for four years in a row, in the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey that studied more than 300 cities across nine countries and regions in the world. The result shows that the median of property price in Hong Kong stood at 14.9 times the median of annual household income, based on data collected in the third quarter last year, reflecting that it would take all of the income an average family could make in 15 years to buy an own property.

POLITICS

Early enactment of Article 23 needed to avoid intrusion into PLA barracks, Wang says

A prominent mainland legal expert Wang Zhenmin {王振民} has called for early enactment of a national security law in Hong Kong as required under Basic Law Article 23 in the wake of the recent storming of some activists into the People’s Liberation Army barracks in the city. Wang, a Tsinghua University law professor, said at a forum hosted by a newly-established official think-tank in Beijing that the new security law could help avoid recurrence of similar incidents. In Hong Kong, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said Article 23 legislation was not high on the list of government work priorities.

Ronnie Chan blasts John Tsang again for wrong spending policy

Ronnie Chan, property tycoon and a prominent supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, yesterday made scathing attack against Financial Secretary for his public finance management. Chan said everyone would have to suffer from Tsang’s failure to make the right decision on when to spend and not to spend. He repeated his earlier criticism that Tsang has spent a total of HK$200 billion on one-off sweeteners in the past few years. He questioned why Tsang seemed to be unhappy with Leung’s announcement of a HK$10 billion welfare spending in his policy address. Tsang’s office said it respects different views.

Heung Yee Kuk vows to field candidates in elections

The Heung Yee Kuk, a rural fraternity body in Hong Kong, has decided to set up an election task force to prepare for greater participation in the city. They complained their interests have been ignored because of lack of voices in the legislature. Noting they had played a supportive role for friendly political parties and groups to contest in elections in previous years, Kuk’s executive committee members decided to field candidates to compete in the two-tier councils, namely Legislative and District Councils.

EDITORIAL

Washington steps up lobbying to avert crisis in northeast Asia

United States President Barack Obama has sent another signal to Japan that it should avoid provoking its neighbors by mishandling issues relating to the history of its military aggression in the region. A visit by two senior State Department officials to China, South Korea and Japan beginning today is the latest diplomatic move by Washington to avoid conflict in the region as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sticks to a rightist stance. Abe has ignored warnings by Beijing and Seoul repeatedly. But he will have to take Washington’s stance seriously. Observers will watch closely whether the visit of the State Department officials will help ease the tension.

COMMENTS

Stop welfare payment to able-bodied people who refuse to work, Wong says

A time limit should be imposed on the eligibility for comprehensive social security assistance payment for able-bodied applicants, former civil service minister Joseph Wong wrote. The amount of welfare subsidies should be reduced to half if they do not get a job after one year. The payment should be terminated if they do not work for another six months. Meanwhile, the Financial Secretary should give a clear picture of the short, medium and long-term economic and financial implications of the anti-poverty measures announced in the Chief Executive’s 2014/15 policy address.

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