Latest from Hong Kong
  Chief Executive welcomes passage of Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021
The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Mrs Carrie Lam, welcomed the passage of the Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021 by the Legislative Council (LegCo) on 27 May, hailing it as a landmark occasion for ensuring "patriots administering Hong Kong" in accordance with the principle of "One Country, Two Systems". Mrs Lam said she is pleased that the Government has expeditiously completed the task to amend the local electoral legislation within two months following the National People's Congress (NPC)’s Decision on 11 March to improve the electoral system of the HKSAR and, with the NPC's authorisation, the NPC Standing Committee’s approved amendments to Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law on 30 March. Mrs Lam highlighted the implementation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (National Security Law) since 30 June last year has effectively restored stability; the passage of the Bill, which ensures "patriots administering Hong Kong" in Hong Kong's political structure, marks another milestone. These two key initiatives fully demonstrate the Central Government's unwavering determination in upholding "One Country, Two Systems", and they will go a long way towards ensuring the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. The Bill will be published in the Gazette and come into effect on 31 May.

Details here.

Economic situation in first quarter of 2021 and latest GDP and price forecasts for 2021
The Hong Kong economy recovered visibly in the first quarter of 2021, with real GDP resuming appreciable year-on-year growth of 7.9%, ending six consecutive quarters of contraction. Total exports of goods surged by 30.2% year-on-year in real terms, due to the global economic recovery led by the Mainland and the US alongside a sharp rebound in global demand. However, the economic recovery was uneven and overall economic activity remained below the pre-recession level, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on certain economic segments, particularly those involving consumer-facing activities. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from a 17-year high of 7.2% in the three-month period ending February to 6.8% in the first quarter of 2021. Considering the uneven economic recovery and the relatively high uncertainty associated with the pandemic, the real GDP growth forecast of 3.5% to 5.5% for 2021 is maintained.

Details here.

Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2021 to be introduced into LegCo
The Government of the HKSAR will introduce the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2021 into the Legislative Council (LegCo) to create a new pathway for admission of qualified non-locally trained doctors who are Hong Kong permanent residents to practise in Hong Kong. Non-locally trained doctor has to fulfil certain criteria, which includes holding Hong Kong permanent resident and a recognised medical qualification awarded by a non-local medical school and possesses medical registration. The purpose of the Bill is to attract Hong Kong permanent residents, who are doctors in any place outside Hong Kong, to return to Hong Kong and serve in the public healthcare sector. The Food and Health Bureau (FHB) said on 18 May there is a severe shortage of doctors in Hong Kong to meet the increasing demand for public healthcare services amidst the ageing population thus see an imminent case to create a new pathway under the Medical Registration Ordinance for qualified non-locally trained doctors to obtain full registration in Hong Kong as an alternative to the current pathway of passing the Licensing Examination, subject to certain criteria being met. The Bill will be introduced into LegCo on 2 June.

Details here.

For details of the Bill, please visit the FHB's website.
22nd Plenary of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held
The Chief Executive of HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Ma Xingrui, co-chaired the 22nd Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference through video conferencing on 14 May. Delivering the opening remarks, Mrs Lam said that with a common objective of taking forward the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong has become ever closer. Both places will fully leverage their strengths together, achieve a win-win outcome, and seek greater policy innovation and breakthroughs to bring more opportunities for enhancing economic growth and improving the livelihood of the people. Five co-operation agreements were signed after the meeting, which also set out individual areas of co-operation, the progress made and the directions for future co-operation in areas including finance, legal and dispute resolution services, innovation and technology, medicine and healthcare, and youth development.

Details here.
"Belt and Road: Hong Kong-IN" - Mainland Enterprises Partnership Exchange and Interface Programme Sharing Session held
The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) of HKSAR Government, together with the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), launched the Mainland Enterprises Partnership Exchange and Interface Programme on 14 May. The first sharing session under the Programme was organised in collaboration with the Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association (HKCEA). The Programme seeks to promote ties between Mainland enterprises and Hong Kong's professional services bodies in seizing Belt and Road-related opportunities under the country's new development strategy of "dual circulation". Speaking at the sharing session attended by about 100 representatives from over 40 enterprises and professional services bodies, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, said that the 14th Five-Year Plan adopted in March this year supports Hong Kong's participation and contribution to the opening up and development of a modernised Chinese economy, and the development of Hong Kong into the prime functional platform for the Belt and Road Initiative. The support from the country will inject a fresh stimulus to the city's economy, and give further impetus to Hong Kong's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Details here.
HK-Singapore Air Travel Bubble deferred
The inaugural flights under the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble (ATB), scheduled for 26 May, was deferred due to Singapore’s recent COVID-19 epidemic situation. A Government spokesman said that the two governments will continue to closely monitor the epidemic situation in both places, including the effectiveness of the enhanced anti-epidemic measures introduced by the Singapore Government, which have taken effect from 16 May and would last till 13 June. During this period, both sides will continue to maintain communication, exchange relevant data and statistics, and review developments closely before deciding on the way forward with the inaugural flights under the ATB. A further announcement will be made on or before 13 June. The spokesman stressed that both governments remain strongly committed to launching the ATB with a view to resuming air travel between the two regional aviation hubs and international cities in a gradual and orderly manner under a set of stringent public health control protocols.

Details here.
Hong Kong innovations win acclaim at International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva
The Chief Executive of HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, on 17 May officiated at the Chief Executive's Reception for Awardees of International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva 2021 to commend Hong Kong research and development (R&D) talents for their inventions winning worldwide acclaim. The Hong Kong delegation won a record 136 awards, including 14 gold medals with congratulations of the jury, 47 gold medals, 61 silver medals and 14 bronze medals with their inventions among more than 350 exhibitors at the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva 2021. Commending Hong Kong’s R&D talent for winning worldwide acclaim, the Chief Executive said this reflected a fervent innovation and technology (I&T) atmosphere in Hong Kong with flourishing I&T developments in the government, industry, academic and research sectors that exemplify the city’s strong innovation and R&D capabilities.

Details here.
Hong Kong ranks the 3rd as most-preferred venue for arbitration
According to the 2021 International Arbitration Survey released by Queen Mary University of London, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre rose one place to rank as the world’s 3rd most-preferred institution for arbitration. Significantly, 50% of the organizations surveyed chose Hong Kong as their preferred venue for arbitration, up from 28% in the previous survey in 2018. The Department of Justice (DoJ) of the HKSAR Government welcomed the survey result, saying that Hong Kong’s strength in dispute resolution is premised on its infrastructure, business opportunities and pool of talents. "Our Judiciary is independent and impartial while our common law system provides a degree of certainty and predictability for investors and the international business community," said Secretary for Justice, Teresa Cheng, adding that the survey result recognises Hong Kong’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to the promotion of arbitral services.

Details here.

The 2021 International Arbitration Survey can be found here.
HKSAR Government signed MoU on lawtech initiative
Secretary for Justice, Ms Teresa Cheng signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chairman of the Asian Academy of International Law (AAIL), Dr Anthony Neoh, on the administration of the Hong Kong Legal Cloud Fund on 20 May. The Hong Kong Legal Cloud is an advanced and user-friendly online facility situated in Hong Kong to provide safe, secure and affordable data storage services for the local legal and dispute resolution communities, with a view to enhancing the capability of the profession to harness modern technology in the provision of relevant services. Ms Cheng expressed her appreciation to the AAIL for its assistance and close partnership on this latest lawtech initiative.

Details here.

For more details on the Hong Kong Legal Cloud, please visit DoJ’s website.
HKMA announces guideline on Green and Sustainable Finance Grant Scheme
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) released a guideline on the Green and Sustainable Finance Grant Scheme (GSF Grant Scheme) as announced in the 2021-22 Budget. The GSF Grant Scheme provides subsidy for eligible bond issuers and loan borrowers to cover their expenses on bond issuance and external review services. Commenting on the GSF Grant Scheme, the Chief Executive of the HKMA, Mr Eddie Yue, said, "The global green bond market has grown from practically non-existent ten years ago to US$270 billion in 2020. In Hong Kong, we have taken early and proactive steps to strengthen Hong Kong's position as a regional green and sustainable finance hub, including the issuance of two rounds of Government green bonds since 2019 and the establishment of the Green and Sustainable Finance Cross-Agency Steering Group to coordinate cross-agency market development efforts. The launch of a new Green and Sustainable Finance Grant Scheme to support green and sustainable bond issuance and lending will further enrich the green and sustainable finance ecosystem in Hong Kong."

Details here.
Hong Kong Laureate Forum to be postponed to November 2022
Given the prevailing situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the progress of global and local vaccinations, as well as the global position on safe travel, the Board of the Council of the Hong Kong Laureate Forum Limited (the HKLF) has decided after careful consideration that the inaugural Hong Kong Laureate Forum (the Forum), originally scheduled to be held on 15-20 November 2021, would be deferred for one year to November 2022. The Secretariat of the HKLF will contact all participating Shaw Laureates and applicants individually as well as their working partners on the deferment. Upon fixing the date of the inaugural Forum next year, all stakeholders will then be notified. Meanwhile, the Secretariat is planning a series of pre-Forum events, which would be held over a period of time starting at end of Q3 this year.

Details here.
  Updates on Hong Kong’s anti-pandemic measures
  • Social distancing measures currently in place in Hong Kong will be maintained until 9 June.
    • Prohibition on group gatherings of more than four persons in public places will continue.
    • Mandatory mask-wearing requirement will continue.
    • The existing requirements and restrictions applicable to catering business, bars and pubs will be maintained.
    • Requirements and restrictions applicable to scheduled premises under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation will be maintained.

  • Starting from 25 May, the Government has adopted the list of risk level of places in the Mainland published by the National Health Commission and uploaded the list of medium or high-risk Mainland areas to the Return2hk Scheme thematic website. Hong Kong residents who have visited any area in the Mainland being classified as a medium or high-risk area on the list on the scheme's website in the past 14 days prior to and upon the day of arrival in Hong Kong will not be exempted from compulsory quarantine under the scheme upon their entry into Hong Kong.

  • The compulsory quarantine period for persons arriving at Hong Kong on or after 9 April, and who have only stayed in Australia, New Zealand on the day of arrival in Hong Kong or during the 21 days before that day, will be shortened to 14 days. The relevant persons will still be required to undergo compulsory quarantine in designated quarantine hotels. This arrangement will be applicable to both Hong Kong residents and non-Hong Kong residents. From 12 May, persons who have been fully vaccinated, will be subject to compulsory quarantine in designated quarantine hotels for 7 days (originally 14 days). They will subsequently be required to self-monitor for 7 days and undergo compulsory testing on the 12th day of their arrival at Hong Kong.

  • Effective from 21 May, boarding and quarantine requirements for people arriving in Hong Kong from Argentina, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Singapore would be tightened. They will have to present proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the aircraft. If they are yet to be fully vaccinated, they will be subject to a 21-day compulsory quarantine at designated quarantine hotels, with four tests to be conducted during the period. For those who have been fully vaccinated, they are still subject to a 14-day compulsory hotel quarantine. Non-Hong Kong residents who have stayed in the above-mentioned places will be denied entry into Hong Kong.

  • Considering the epidemic situation in Taiwan and Singapore, the Government announced on 18 May that it would further tighten the quarantine arrangements for persons who have already arrived at Hong Kong from Taiwan earlier and are under compulsory home quarantine. The compulsory testing arrangements for persons arriving at Hong Kong from Taiwan and Singapore would also be enhanced. Relevant persons arriving at Hong Kong to undergo compulsory quarantine in designated quarantine hotels instead of undergoing home quarantine, and requiring of presentation at boarding a proof of a nucleic acid test negative result for COVID-19 conducted within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the aircraft.

  • The Government announced on 13 May that a number of enhancement measures would be put in place to further strengthen the infection control at designated quarantine hotels. For persons arriving at Hong Kong, apart from undergoing the "test-and-hold" arrangement at the airport, they will also be subject to further tests while undergoing compulsory quarantine at designated quarantine hotels. Apart from the existing pre-departure and/or post-arrival tests, the Government will introduce an additional test on the third day of arrival. Depending on the risk level of places where the persons arriving at Hong Kong depart from and the applicable compulsory quarantine periods, the number of tests these persons subject to during compulsory quarantine will also be increased to two (for 7-day compulsory quarantine period) to four times (for 21-day compulsory quarantine period). Furthermore, persons arriving at Hong Kong from extremely high-risk or very high-risk specified places, or fully vaccinated persons with shortened quarantine periods, will also be required to undergo additional compulsory tests upon the completion of compulsory quarantine.

  • The Securities and Futures Commission announced on 28 May that the Chief Secretary for Administration has designated certain categories of persons in the financial services sector to be exempted from the compulsory quarantine arrangements in Hong Kong. Senior executives of licensed corporations or their overseas affiliates who are fully vaccinated and meet the eligibility criteria may apply for exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangements when they return or travel to Hong Kong. Quotas would be in place for the maximum number of entries into Hong Kong in each calendar month for each licenced corporation.  The eligibility criteria for senior executives to qualify for the exemption, the application procedures and relevant requirements can be found here.
Read more from the Fight Against COVID-19 website.
  Webinar "Direct Dialogue with the Chief Executive of HKSAR" held
The Chief Executive of HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, on 6 May addressed more than 200 participants during the webinar, in which she highlighted how Hong Kong's uniqueness under "One Country, Two Systems" makes it an ideal gateway for businesses and investment between Mainland China and New Zealand. Mrs Lam said that Hong Kong has been enjoying close ties with New Zealand over the years, with New Zealand in 2010 becoming the first foreign economy to enter into a free trade agreement with Hong Kong, and pointed out that Hong Kong looks forward to strengthening such ties by joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Mrs Lam assured the participants that Hong Kong's future prospects are bright as the city's traditional strengths such as a free and open economy, the rule of law and judicial independence remain as robust as ever. The webinar was organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Sydney, co-organised by Invest Hong Kong and supported by the Hong Kong New Zealand Business Association as well as the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

Details here.
Upcoming events
  HKartsFestival@TaiKwun (Hong Kong and online)
From 12 to 20 June, HKartsFestival@TaiKwun returns and continues to encourage public participation in the arts through an array of immersive online and on-site programmes, encompassing interactive art tech installations, site-specific creations, pop-up performances and real-time interactive improvisations, curated and performed by about 100 local as well as international artists.

More information here.
  Hong Kong Book Fair (Hong Kong)
The Hong Kong Book Fair is the largest annual literary fest in the HKSAR. To be held from 14-20 July, the Book Fair features publications and writers from different countries and regions. "Inspirational and Motivational Reading" is the theme of this year that comes along with a vast selection of books that inspire and motivate. A fantastic line-up of authors of this popular genre will make appearances to greet their fans. What's more, a series of seminars, workshops and storytelling sessions with celebrities and authors of renown will also be held for book lovers to engage in!

More information here.
  Together, we fight the virus!
  Useful links  
  Tender notifications  
Improve Electoral System
safehuarding National Security in Hong Kong
Updates on Latest Situation in Hong Kong
HKETO Sydney website Find us on FacebookLinkedin Find us on Facebook