26 February 2020

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, April 16:


Holdup on the line for HK high-speed rail link 

MTR Corp. (00066.HK) revealed Tuesday for the first time that the construction of the high-speed rail link connecting Hong Kong with the mainland’s high-speed railway network will not be completed on time by 2015. The company expects the delay to add at least nine more months to the original construction schedule, possibly postponing the launch of the section to 2017. The Hong Kong government said the delay is surprising and the authorities have demanded a report from the rail operator. Lawmakers, meanwhile, called for the both MTR Corp. and the government to be held accountable for the holdup.

Simple risk controls key to stock through-train

The central government gave the go-ahead for the through-train cross-border share investment scheme linking the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets in light of the inclusion of a simple operational mechanism to contain risk, sources told HKEJ. The scheme’s quotas are restricted to share trading, preventing funds from flowing into the property or interbank markets. The authorities have left room to raise the quotas, which are based on the daily net balance of the buy and sell amounts in each side of the border.

Mainland credit risks ‘manageable’ for HK lenders

The credit risks from loans by city lenders to mainland clients are at a manageable level, according to Hong Kong Monetary Authority deputy chief executive Arthur Yuen. Stress tests showed that such risks would still be under control even in the worst case for the mainland economy, Yuen said, adding that the authority is not going to limit the credit expansion pace of local lenders any time soon. Total loans to mainland clients stood at HK$2.28 trillion (US$294.03 million) as of the end of 2013, up 30 percent from a year earlier.


Public CE nomination violates Basic Law, professor says

A leading mainland legal expert on the Basic Law warned Tuesday against public nominations for the 2017 chief executive election, claiming they would undermine the role of the nominating committee. Tsinghua University law dean Wang Zhenmin {王振民} said the proposal would violate the Basic Law and Hong Kong should develop its own form of universal suffrage that met the “genuine love Hong Kong” standard, not any Western criteria.


Huge price to pay for HK high-speed rail link delay

Hong Kong’s high-speed rail link is not just a domestic project, but part of China’s national rail transport strategy. Any delay will disrupt the schedule for full operation of connections to Guangdong, harm the reputation of Hong Kong and inflict extra costs and unfathomable economic loss. The government is obligated to give a full account to the public and strengthen supervision to avoid further delays. The project has been fraught with controversy since it was put on the agenda, and the government and society have paid a huge price for it. The government must make sure it is a great success.


Chaos to flow from new innovation bureau, Joseph Wong says

There is no need to create an innovation and technology bureau that the government says will deliver greater policy depth, former civil service minister Joseph Wong Wing-ping wrote. Wong said the proposal would lead to policy and administrative chaos because the new bureau’s responsibilities would duplicate those of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau. Wong also said the new bureau would not work because government officials lack creativity.

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