18 August 2019

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 Friday, March 7:


Zhang steps into row over mainland visitors in Hong Kong

Zhang Dejiang {張德江}, chairman of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee, has ordered the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council and the China National Tourism Administration to look into the capacity of Hong Kong in handling mainland tourists and to ascertain whether the visitors are getting good value for money. Zhang’s remarks came as Beijing raised concerns over the so-called “anti-locust” campaign that targets mainland tourists in Hong Kong. Observers said Zhang’s intervention violates the principle of “one country two systems”.

Lou says employment tops government priority

Employment should be given the top priority in pursuit of any economic targets, China’s finance minister Lou Jiwei {樓繼偉} said, noting that micro and small enterprises and the services sector have contributed the most to the job market last year with service industry surpassing manufacturing for the first time to provide the biggest number of jobs. Lou also sees few obstacles on the way to a growth of about 7.5 percent this year, adding that a pace of 7.2 percent or above should be regarded as having accomplished the goal. Overall price levels, meanwhile, are likely to be under control due to a prudent stance in monetary policies, Lou noted.

Xi urges faster reforms in Guangdong

Chinese President Xi Jinping {習近平} has urged Guangdong to step up its efforts in implementing new reforms, noting the province’s forerunner role 30 years ago. Xi called for swift action in improving the functions of the provincial government while enhancing market forces and systems for further opening-up. The remark came as Xi discussed the latest government work report with the provincial delegation. Xi voiced concerns over air and water pollution in the province, particularly in areas around the Pearl River Delta.


Zhang warns of disaster if Hong Kong copies Western democracy

Chairman of China’s national legislature, Zhang Dejiang, has warned of catastrophic consequences if Hong Kong copies democratic systems in other countries that are not suitable for the city. Speaking at a meeting with Hong Kong deputies to the National People’s Congress, Zhang also criticized some people for selling “fake goods” in the name of democracy and asking too much in the political reform talk. Organizer of the Occupy Central movement Chan Kin-man rejected Zhang’s criticism that their demand for universal suffrage would bring chaos to the city.

New World’s Cheng says John Tsang always wrong in budget forecast

New World Development chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun has slammed Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang for being overly worried about the fiscal health of the city. He dismissed fears raised by an experts’ group appointed by Tsang, which said the city’s reserves could be depleted in seven to 15 years. Cheng said Tsang has always wrongly projected the city’s fiscal situation, adding it would not be good for Hong Kong if Tsang stayed in the top financial position. Cheng, a supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, said Tsang and Leung held different views on fiscal policy.


Arms race in Asia Pacific intensifies

China’s defense spending will grow at 12.2 percent this year. The United States also announced yesterday a staggering US$500 billion budget for defense for 2015. Washington also revealed in a report that it plans to allocate over 60 percent of its naval spending to the Asia Pacific region. Taken together with Japan’s increased defense spending, the military race in the region is intensifying. A vicious cycle over arms looks imminent as the risk of military conflicts caused by disputes over territories and resources grows amid the lack of a regional dispute-resolution mechanism.

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