Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Wednesday, Feb. 26:
Hong Kong replaced by Beijing in hosting APEC meeting
Beijing has replaced Hong Kong as host of a key Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers’ meeting scheduled for September. Observers and lawmakers said the decision reflects the central government’s concerns and seeks to reduce the potential impact on the international level of planned demonstrations by pro-democracy “Occupy Central” movement. The ongoing discussions on Hong Kong’s constitutional reform are also seen as a factor behind the decision to change the venue.
Renminbi spot rate hits two-year low
The renminbi has depreciated in the spot market against the US dollar for six consecutive trading days and saw a 0.46 percent drop on Tuesday, the biggest fall in more than two years. The Chinese currency closed at 6.1266 after hitting 6.131, the weakest in six months. Analysts said the spot market rate followed the downtrend the People’s Bank of China set in the benchmark daily midpoint in an apparent bid to curb speculation. Meanwhile, observers said the weaker exchange rate may be aimed at preparing the market for a wider bandwidth tolerance.
Poly Property pays record price for Kai Tak residential site
Poly Property Group Co. Ltd. (00119.HK) has become the second state-backed developer to win a residential site in a Hong Kong government tender. The group obtained the land parcel in Kai Tak for HK$3.92 billion (US$505.11 million), or HK$6,530 per square foot, a record unit price in the district. Two other smaller sites nearby were sold to K Wah International Holdings Ltd. (00173.HK) and a private developer for a combined HK$5.85 billion. Property experts said they expect more mainland developers to participate in local land auctions, bolstering the cost of land acquisitions.
Beijing legal expert says civil nomination advocates confrontational
Rao Geping, a mainland member of the Beijing-appointed Basic Law Committee, has warned that people who promote the idea of civil nomination and nomination by political parties for the chief executive election, were leading Hong Kong to an adversarial position against the central government. The Peking University law professor said those people have threatened to stage an “Occupy Central” movement if their demands were not heeded. Such moves, Rao said, were misleading the public and damaging the city’s rule of law and “one country, two systems” policy.
Liberal Party joins hands with Democrats on doctors supply proposal
The pro-business Liberal Party has teamed up with the Democratic Party to put forward a joint proposal on ways to ease the shortage of doctors in public hospitals. Liberal Party chairman James Tien said such co-operation with the Democrats does not mean it would not become an opposition party, adding he is not worried if Beijing would feel unhappy with its move. The two parties said they would lobby support from other political parties for their proposal.
APEC venue change reflects Beijing’s new thinking on Hong Kong
Amid the threat of the “Occupy Central” movement and strained mainland-Hong Kong relations, Beijing does not want to take the risk of a possible shock to the APEC ministerial meeting as a result of the protests in the territory. It prefers to play safe. The decision not to host the meeting in Hong Kong also shows Beijing will stand firm on the issue of political reform. Candidates whom Beijing does not trust will not be allowed to join the contest. Beijing also wants to send the message that it can take back anything it has given to Hong Kong.