Is the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong making too much profit from the city?
The liaison office has reportedly cashed in over HK$380 million (US$49 million) selling properties in Kowloon Tong and Sheung Wan since November.
Last week, another report quoted a Chinese government document saying the liaison office has taken control of Sino United Publishing (Holdings) Ltd., the dominant player in the local book publishing market, through a shell company in Hong Kong.
SUP owns the three largest bookstores in the city.
The latest issue of Next Magazine notes that the firm also owns C&C Security Printing Ltd., the company that prints all the passports for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
C&C Security Printing has been the sole contractor to the Hong Kong government for printing HKSAR passports since the city was handed over to China in 1997.
The contract is worth at least HK$30 million every year, but how the government awarded the lucrative business to the firm is unknown to the public.
The “Agreed Minute on the Preparations for the Issue of the Passports of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”, signed by China and Britain in January 1996, says, “The Chinese side will be responsible for the manufacturing of blank HKSAR passports and will take effective measures to ensure the security of the manufacturing process.”
The minute didn’t state whether an official organization or a private firm should be given the passport printing role, or how the contract awarding process should work, the magazine said.
In 印刷的故事 (The Story of Publishing), a book published by Joint Publishing (HK) Co. Ltd., another subsidiary of SUP, there is a paragraph saying C&C Security Printing had gone through a vigorous competition before winning the contract for the job, but no further information is given.
Former officials from the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office had promised that all the printing would be carried out in Hong Kong.
However, the magazine said C&C Security Printing made large-scale layoffs in 2003, some of the workers complaining that the firm was moving its factory to the mainland.
EJ Insight found that C&C Security Printing Co. (Shenzhen) Ltd. and C&C Security Printing (Macau) Co. Ltd. also fall under the SUP umbrella.
It is a good question whether the printing of the HKSAR passports is still done locally.
And if it is done in the mainland, could applicants’ personal data get leaked during the printing process?
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