Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

China fumes over S&P credit rating downgrade

September 22, 2017

China is angry at Standard and Poor’s (S&P) following a downgrade of its creditworthiness by the ratings agency over concerns about the country’s rising debt. S&P underestimated China’s financial strength, Beijing said.

Konzernzentrale von Standard and Poors in New York USA (dapd)

China’s Ministry of Finance said on Friday that S&P’s downgrade of Chinese sovereign debt was a “wrong decision” and based on a “long-standing mode of thinking, and misreading of the Chinese economy.”

On Thursday, the New York based ratings agency cut China’s sovereign credit rating from A+ to AA- , however keeping the country’s outlook on “stable.” The one-notch downgrade came after Moody’s Investors Service made a similar move in May – the first time in almost three decades that the nation’s credit rating was cut.

In a statement, S&P said it decided to make the call after concluding that China’s “de-risking” drive that started early this year was having less of an impact on credit growth than initially expected.

“Despite the fact that the government has shown greater resolve to implement the deleveraging policy, we continue to see overall credit in the corporate sector staying at a 9 percent point,” S&P senior director of sovereign ratings, Kim Eng Tan, said in a conference call. “We’ve now come to the conclusion that deleveraging is likely to be much more gradual than we thought could have been the case early this year.”

Debt-fueled investment in infrastructure and real estate has underpinned China’s growth for years. But Beijing has launched a crackdown amid fears of a potential financial crisis.

Ballooning debt

China’s banks extended a record 12.65 trillion yuan ($1.84 trillion or 1.60 trillion euros) of loans in 2016, roughly the size of Italy’s economy. Total social financing (TSF) – a broad measure of credit and liquidity in the economy – was a record 17.8 trillion yuan.

Tan said broader lending by all financial institutions has started to rise after growing by a relatively steady 12-13 percent in the last few years. “That was the key metric that we look at…and we believe while this growth of aggregate debt financing could come down somewhat over the next few years, it’s not likely to come down very sharply,” he noted.

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But the Finance Ministry accused S&P of ignoring the country’s economic fundamentals and development potential as the world’s second-largest economy.

“China is able to maintain the stability of its financial systems through cautious lending, improved government supervision and credit risk controls,” the ministry said in a statement Friday. “[S&P’s] view neglects the characteristics of China’s financial market fundraising structure and the accumulated wealth and material support from Chinese government’s spending.”

As a matter of fact, China’s economic growth has unexpectedly accelerated this year, racing ahead at 6.9 percent in the first half. But much of the impetus has come from record bank lending, a property boom and sharply higher government stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending.

Moreover, analysts say China’s campaign to cut financial risks this year has had mixed success, prompting doubts whether Beijing is moving fast enough to avert the dangers of a debt crisis down the road.

Hong Kong hit by fallout

On Friday, S&P also slashed Hong Kong’s top-notch credit rating, warning of potential spillover risks from the mainland’s ballooning debt pile.

The ratings agency cited Hong Kong’s “very strong institutional and political linkages” with China, saying: “We view a weakening of credit support for China as exerting a negative impact on the ratings on Hong Kong beyond what is implied by the territory’s currently strong credit metrics.”

Despite Hong Kong’s “very strong” credit metrics, S&P said the territory still faced multiple challenges including sky-high property prices and rising interest rates in the United States, to which the city’s monetary policy was tied.

uhe/tr (Reuters, dpa, AFP)


Hong Kong’s ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Framework Under Pressure: Britain

September 14, 2017

HONG KONG — “Important areas” of Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” framework are coming under growing pressure, illustrated by developments such as reports of mainland security officials operating in the autonomous city, a British government report said on Thursday.

The “One Country, Two Systems” principle, implemented as the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, promises the city a high degree of autonomy, an independent judiciary and a range of freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China.

The former colonial power has been issuing reports on Hong Kong every half a year since then, and the latest, which covers developments in the first six months this year, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the guiding principle has “generally functioned well.”

“However, at the same time, we cannot ignore that important areas of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework are coming under increasing pressure,” Johnson wrote.

Examples include “further reports of mainland security officials operating within” Hong Kong, he said, without elaborating, as well as reports of the local Beijing representative’s office heightening its influence in the city.

But for the first time, the half-yearly report stopped short of raising concern over five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared in late 2015 and later mysteriously re-emerged in mainland Chinese custody. One of the five men, Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, is still in Chinese detention.

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Gui Minhai

The report also touched upon the “apparent abduction” of Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua, who in January disappeared from his downtown Hong Kong apartment in a wheelchair with his head covered.

Although Hong Kong authorities said there was no evidence to suggest mainland law enforcement agents had acted on Hong Kong soil, Johnson noted that “many in Hong Kong and internationally highlighted the numerous similarities between Xiao Jianhua’s apparent abduction and the case of the Hong Kong booksellers.”

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Xiao Jianhua

He also said he looked forward to welcoming the city’s newly sworn-in leader, Carrie Lam, to visit London to discuss closer co-operation between the UK and Hong Kong “as the UK prepares to leave the EU.”

In response to the report, the Hong Kong government said foreign governments should not interfere in the internal affairs of the city.

“Since the return to the motherland, the HKSAR (Special Administrative Region) has been exercising a high degree of autonomy … This demonstrates the full and successful implementation of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, which has been widely recognized by the international community.”

(Reporting by Venus Wu, editing by Larry King)

Peace and Freedom Note: Hong Kong is as safe a haven as beijing. No more. No less.

Steve Bannon in Hong Kong Speech: ‘To Avoid a Trade War, China Must Cease Its Economic War Against America’

September 13, 2017



12 Sep 2017

 Image result for Steve Bannon, photos

In a speech to the CLSA Investors’ Forum in Hong Kong on Tuesday, Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon stated that to avoid a trade war, China must cease its economic war on America.

In a separate interview on Tuesday with David Martosko of The Daily Mail, Bannon mentioned President Trump’s planned visit to China in November to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and attend economic summits. Bannon said Trump will seek common ground in a new trade relationship with China because “[t]here’s too much at stake to slip into a trade war right off the bat.”

“I think it has to be engagement [between] the United States and China. I think the November meeting with the president is going to really be that, and I think good things will come out of it.”

Bannon predicted Trump would be aggressive in pursuing America’s interests, but would still be able to “reach some sort of accommodation.”

“I think we’ll avoid a trade war simply for the fact that the president has shown that he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to protect American jobs, and to bring back manufacturing jobs,” he said.

From the Daily Mail:

Bannon spoke to the CLSA Investors’ Forum using PowerPoint slides, according to two attendees.

One provided notes showing the content of Bannon’s slides about Asia, which Bannon confirmed after his speech.

‘Forced technology transfer will be the central issue that must be resolved,’ read one slide.

‘To avoid a trade war, China must cease its economic war against America.’

A second slide pointed to the Trump administration’s ‘rejection’ of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trading bloc as an example of a ‘new American focus on “reciprocity”.’

From there, Bannon’s Powerpoint forecasts how the White House will focus on reciprocal trade deals to impact NAFTA, the ‘301 investigation’ – which he claims has cost the U.S. ‘$3.5 trillion in the last 10 years’ – and the United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement, which he describes as a question of ‘terminate or renegotiate.’

As Martosko notes, the “Section 301” probe investigating allegations of China’s theft of American intellectual property was “undertaken in August by the U.S. Trade Representative under an obscure portion of a 1974 trade law [and] could result in new tariffs on Chinese products.”

In his recent interview with Charlie Rose on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Bannon expounded on his assertion that China is at economic war with the United States. As Breitbart’s Tony Lee reported:

Bannon told CBS anchor Charlie Rose that Trump for 30 years has “singled out China as the biggest single problem we have on the world stage.”

“The elites in this country have got us in a situation–we’re not at economic war with China, China is at economic war with us,” he said.

Bannon said, for starters, he wants China “to stop appropriating our technology.”

“China is, through forced technology transfer and through stealing our technology, …  cutting out the beating heart of American innovation,” Bannon said.

Bannon expressed similar sentiments to American Prospect editor Robert Kuttner, whom he called because he agreed with some of the things Kuttner has written on China.

“We’re at economic war with China,” he told Kuttner. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path.”

Bannon told Kuttner that to him, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Bannon recently explained to the New York Times that “a hundred years from now, this is what they’ll remember — what we did to confront China on its rise to world domination.”

Comparing China today to “Germany in 1930,” Bannon told the Times that China is “on the cusp. It could go one way or the other.”


Steve Bannon Says He Talks to Donald Trump Frequently

September 12, 2017

Former White House strategist discusses the president at events in Hong Kong

 Image result for Steve Bannon, photos

HONG KONG—Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon remains in frequent contact with President Donald Trump weeks after leaving his administration job, Mr. Bannon told a private lunchtime gathering Tuesday in Hong Kong.

Mr. Bannon said he talks to Mr. Trump every two to three days, and that the pair last spoke the previous night for an…

Steve Bannon unloads on China ahead of Hong Kong speech, declaring Beijing ‘the biggest problem’ for Trump

September 11, 2017

‘The elites in this country have got us in a situation. We’re not at economic war with China; China is at economic war with us’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 September, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 September, 2017, 10:36am

Steve Bannon – US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist who left the White House in August – has used a closely watched TV appearance to hammer China ahead of his arrival in Hong Kong to speak on US economic nationalism tomorrow.

Bannon told 60 Minutes on Sunday that the US had to take a tougher stance with China over trade and appropriating US technology.

Beijing, he declared in his first TV interview since leaving the White House, was already at “economic war” with the US and it was time for the US to respond in kind.

“Donald Trump, for 30 years, has singled out China as the biggest single problem we have on the world stage,” he said. ‘The elites in this country have got us in a situation. We’re not at economic war with China; China is at economic war with us.”

Bannon will address an investor forum in Hong Kong tomorrow organised by CLSA, an overseas unit of Citic Securities Co, the biggest state-owned Chinese brokerage. The talk will focus on “American economic nationalism, the populist revolt and Asia,” according to a CLSA spokeswoman.

Donald Trump, for 30 years, has singled out China as the biggest single problem we have on the world stage

“He’s the man of the moment, and we believe our clients are interested in what he has to say,” CLSA said. “He is current and his opinion influences the markets.”

The September 12 talk will focus on “American economic nationalism, the populist revolt and Asia,” according to the CLSA spokeswoman.

Bannon, went to work in Hong Kong on 2005 at a start-up called Internet Gaming Entertainment, based in Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay.

Bannon unloaded against his enemies in the 60 Minutesinterview. It was a long list, as he declared war against the Republican congressional leadership, called on top Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn to resign, and outlined his views on issues ranging from immigration to trade.

He accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan of “trying to nullify the 2016 election.” It was Bannon’s first television interview since returning as executive chairman to Breitbart News, the conservative website he previously led.

He blamed them for failing to repeal and replace former president Barack Obama’s signature health care law and made clear he would use his Breitbart perch to hold Republicans accountable for not helping Trump push through his agenda.


“They’re not going to help you unless they’re put on notice,” he told CBS’s Charlie Rose. “They’re going to be held accountable if they do not support the president of the United States. Right now there’s no accountability.”

Stressing absolute loyalty to Trump, Bannon criticised members of the administration who, he said, had leaked to the media their displeasure with the way Trump handled the white-supremacist-fuelled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one dead and more injured.

“You can tell him, ‘Hey, maybe you can do it a better way.’ But if you’re going to break, then resign. If you’re going to break with him, resign,” he said. “If you find it unacceptable, you should resign.”

He explicitly mentioned Cohn, Trump’s director of the National Economic Council who had criticised Trump’s response in an interview with the Financial Times, and said he “absolutely” thought Cohn should have resigned.

Bannon joined the Trump campaign in August 2016 and emerged as the president’s ideological id, channelling his populist and nationalist impulses. Though he made many enemies within the West Wing, including the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and clashed with John Kelly, Trump’s second chief of staff, Bannon remains close to Trump.

Recalling a particularly low moment in the campaign, when the Access Hollywood tape emerged of Trump bragging about groping women, Bannon dismissed it as “just locker room talk” – but said the moment served as an important “litmus test” for loyalty to Trump.

At the time, Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff, urged the then-candidate to either drop out of the race or face a historic loss. And, Bannon said, Governor Chris Christie, who served as a campaign adviser overseeing Trump’s transition plan, lost a likely spot in the president’s Cabinet because of his response to the video.

“I told him, ‘The plane leaves at 11 in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team,’ ” Bannon said, referring to Christie. “Didn’t make the plane.”

Yet Bannon also seemed to criticise the president’s recent decision to rescind protections for “Dreamers” – those 690,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as young children – while giving Congress six months to devise a legislative solution. The move, he said, could cost Republicans the House in the 2018 election.

“If this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March, it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013,” Bannon said. “And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise.”

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

ASEAN Makes Free Trade Deal With Hong Kong

September 9, 2017


© AFP/File | Ministers gather at the ASEAN meeting in Manila, where it was announced the group is to sign a free-trade agreement with Hong Kong in November

MANILA (AFP) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is to sign a free-trade agreement with Hong Kong in November, a Philippine government official said Saturday, following three years of talks.The Chinese special administrative region began free-trade negotiations with ASEAN in 2014, four years after the 10-nation economic bloc signed a similar trade deal with China in 2010.

Hong Kong also completed negotiations on an investment pact with ASEAN, said Philippine Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo.

“This would… send a positive signal for the international community of ASEAN’s resolute commitment to free trade and open markets,” Rodolfo told reporters.

He gave no details of the two agreements, which dealt with lowering import duties and cutting barriers to investment.

The agreement was reached as ASEAN economic ministers held a dialogue in Manila Saturday with Hong Kong government officials.

ASEAN, an economic bloc with a combined population of more than 600 million, is Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner after mainland China, according to the territory’s Trade and Industry Department website.

Hong Kong also acts as an important entrepot for trade between mainland China and ASEAN, an economic grouping made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

It has remained a separate customs entity from mainland China since the city’s 1997 handover by Britain.

ASEAN members have established a free-trade area among themselves aiming to slash tariffs on most goods to zero and minimise non-tariff barriers. They have also signed free-trade deals with key trading partners such as Japan and China.

Rodolfo said the Hong Kong deals are to be signed in November, when the Philippines hosts an ASEAN summit.

ASEAN also has free-trade deals with India, Australia and New Zealand, and South Korea.


Chinese University of Hong Kong: Hongkongers and mainlanders disagree on independence, human ruman and democracy

September 8, 2017

Quarrels break out at CUHK as controversy over pro-independence posters on ‘democracy wall’ exposes pent-up tensions

By Kimmy Chung and Elizabeth Cheung
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 September, 2017, 11:26pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 2:08am

They faced off at the so-called “democracy wall”, competing for space to put up posters and taking opposing ideological stands on freedom of speech.

A Facebook post in simplified Chinese calling on mainland students to post their views on the wall drew around 100 people – Hongkongers and mainlanders – to the scene at 6pm.

Posters declaring “CUSU is not CU” and “Sorry we refuse to be represented” were seen plastered on the wall to register unhappiness with CUSU, the students’ union, which manages the wall and the square around it.

Some posters, in simplified Chinese, read “Get out of Chinese soil if supporting independence”, and others asked Hongkongers to respect mainland students.

Scattered quarrels broke out when local students tried to stop several mainland students from putting up such posters on top of those advocating independence, arguing that it went against the principle of freedom of speech.

There was no physical confrontation and both groups dispersed after an hour.

“We respect opposing opinions of students and will safeguard freedom of speech,” union leader Au Tsz-ho said.

 Students from Chinese University of Hong Kong gather next to the “Wall of Democracy”. Photo: Elizabeth Cheung

He insisted that rules had to be followed, and posters breaching them by covering existing ones should be removed.

The controversy began on Monday when three large black banners bearing the words “Hong Kong independence” in Chinese and English appeared at Chinese University at the start of the new academic year. The “democracy wall” was also covered with pro-independence posters.

While no one claimed responsibility for the displays, university staff removed the contentious materials, but they reappeared the following day, and spread to five other tertiary institutions.

On Tuesday evening, a mainland student was recorded on social media tearing down posters on the wall, declaring that if others could put them up, she was free to take them down. Her act earned her praise from the Chinese Communist Youth League, with its official WeChat account sharing the video and hailing her bravery.

With emotions running high on social media, a WeChat channel targeting mainlanders in Hong Kong launched an online poll, asking if netizens “support” or “strongly support” the student tearing down the posters. There was no other choice for the poll.

As of 10pm on Thursday, more than 5,000 had voted, with 80 per cent picking the “strongly support” option.

 Members of the Chinese University student union removed posters from mainland students which covered other notices on the “Wall of Democracy”. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

The students’ union, which had previously refused to take down any posters on campus, changed tack on Thursday, clearing three out of four boards of pro-independence posters and saying they would remove all such material without signatures by 8 am today. Posters without signatures breached regulations, the union said.

Ahead of the students, a group of middle-aged pro-government protesters also showed up at around 5pm, condemning the union and urging the university management to remove all the related posters.

While the verbal sparring and counter-plastering of rival posters ended after about an hour, it continued on the union’s Facebook page, with many criticising it for allowing the wall to be blanketed by pro-independence posters.

Chinese University has about 16,000 undergraduates, around 1,200 of whom are mainlanders.

Vice-chancellor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu wrote in his blog that he disagreed with independence advocacy and the university “should not be turned into a political arena”.

Similar posters on the “democracy wall” of Education University and Shue Yan University also remained intact. The union of Shue Yan said the university office had changed tack and agreed the posters could stay up as long as space was also provided for other views.

Police commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-Chung weighed in on the debate, saying, “If advocates of independence violate the laws of Hong Kong, police will take solemn and just law enforcement action for sure.”

However, views remain divided on whether current related laws on sedition, which have not been updated since the 1970s, can apply in such cases.

University of Hong Kong principal law lecturer Eric Cheung Tat-ming said those provisions were “outdated” while Executive Councillor Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a former chairman of the Bar Association, disagreed.

Meanwhile Education University and its student union condemned those responsible for putting up a poster on their “democracy wall” ridiculing Undersecretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin’s over the death of her eldest son, who jumped from a luxury residential building on Thursday.

A university spokesman apologised for the “shameful” behaviour, and said CCTV footage was being checked to find out who was responsible.


New wave of leaders step into breach for jailed Hong Kong democracy activists

September 8, 2017


© AFP / by Aaron TAM | Hong Kong democracy activists Agnes Chow and Lester Shum are among the young leaders to have stepped into the breach left by jailed opposition figures

HONG KONG (AFP) – The jailing of Hong Kong’s best-known democracy activists has pushed a new wave of young leaders to take the helm as they seek to keep the movement’s message alive.Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, who carved out international reputations with their campaigning, were both sent to prison last month in what rights groups slammed as politically motivated prosecutions.

Alongside fellow activist Alex Chow, they are serving sentences of between six and eight months for their roles in a protest that triggered mass Umbrella Movement rallies in 2014 calling for democratic reforms.

The jailings were a blow to the pro-democracy movement and seen as more evidence that Beijing is tightening its grip on semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

But they also breathed new life into a campaign that had been struggling for momentum since the 2014 rallies failed to win concessions.

Tens of thousands took to the streets to protest the jail terms last month, and activists who have long been at the right hand of Wong and Law are now stepping into the spotlight.

“We should try to do more, not only for them but also for our city and to show the government and the Chinese regime that we are not going to be scared,” Agnes Chow, 20, a close friend of the jailed activists, told AFP.

Chow addressed the crowds at last month’s protest over the sentences and has regularly spoken to the media since her friends were imprisoned.

If a by-election for the Hong Kong legislature is held early next year — after her 21st birthday in December — she would be old enough to run for Law’s vacated seat, and has not ruled that out.

Law was one of four pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified from parliament in July for inserting protests into their oaths of office.

Chow is already a seasoned activist — she was one of the core members of Wong’s Scholarism group, which organised huge rallies in 2012 forcing the government to shelve a proposal to introduce compulsory patriotic “national education” into schools.

She was also one of the best-known faces of the Umbrella Movement, regularly taking to the stage to address protesters, and is a member of Wong and Law’s political party Demosisto.

Chow said the government was using the jail terms to scare people away from social movements.

“It is important for us to learn how to overcome fear in order to fight for our own basic human rights and freedom and democracy,” she said.

– Turning point –

Chow and fellow Demosisto member Derek Lam said the democratic movement now needed to improve its connections at the grassroots level to build a stronger base.

Lam, 24, who made an emotive speech outside the jail where Chow and Law are being held and is one of Demosisto’s most recognisable leaders, said the party ranks had swelled in the past two months.

“Young people are all trying to find a way to change Hong Kong,” he added.

But Lam also faces charges over an anti-China demonstration last year and believes there will soon “only be a few people left” to lead the cause.

Activist Lester Shum said those who are free to continue campaigning should put pessimism aside.

Shum, 24, also a prominent student leader during the Umbrella Movement, has been at the forefront of recent protests over the jailings.

He said the imprisonment of Wong, Law and Chow was a turning point for the democratic movement.

“They have been facing their situation with a very calm and determined attitude,” he told AFP.

“I think this will somehow encourage pro-democratic Hong Kong people,” said Shum, who is assistant to popular pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu.

Shum is facing contempt of court charges relating to the clearance of one of the Umbrella Movement protest sites. Visibly thinner than when he first came on the scene, he said there had been an emotional toll.

“One of the worst things for me has already happened,” he said, referring to the imprisonment of his girlfriend Willis Ho.

She was one of 13 activists recently jailed for charging the Legislative Council building in 2014 in protest over re-development plans for rural areas.

But he remains optimistic about the city’s campaign for democracy and vowed to fight on.

“If we could stand up against their agenda, stand up against the challenges given to us by them, I think Hong Kong people will not be defeated easily.”

by Aaron TAM

Hong Kong radio replaces BBC with Chinese programming

September 5, 2017


© AFP/File | The city’s Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) has relayed the BBC World Service live since 1978 but early morning Monday, listeners woke up to the mandarin broadcast of the China National Radio Hong Kong Edition (CNR)

HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong’s public radio station has replaced its 24-hour BBC World Service broadcast with Chinese state-run programming, in a move the British broadcaster called “disappointing” as concerns grow over Beijing’s influence on the semi-autonomous city.Listeners woke up on Monday morning to the Mandarin-language broadcast of the China National Radio Hong Kong Edition (CNR), instead of the World Service, which had been relayed live by Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) since 1978.

The BBC said it was “always disappointed when a service our listeners are used to changes” with listeners launching a petition to bring back the World Service.

RTHK has a number of different channels offering some programmes in English. The World Service was broadcast on Channel 6, which is now playing CNR.

The CNR broadcast includes news, culture and lifestyle programming mostly in Mandarin — the language most commonly spoken in mainland China.

Only some of its content is in Cantonese, which is the dominant language of Hong Kong, leading to criticism that this was another step towards the “mainlandisation” of Hong Kong.

RTHK is still running a reduced version of the World Service on a different channel, but only late at night, from 11pm to 7am.

China stands accused of tightening its grip on Hong Kong, with critics also blaming the pro-Beijing local government for acting as a puppet.

The jailing of prominent young pro-democracy activists last month and the unveiling of a controversial rail link to the mainland that would see a portion of the city come under Chinese law have worsened fears the city’s cherished freedoms are being eroded.

An online petition against the change to the World Service programming had received over 1,000 signatures by Tuesday morning.

“The removal of the BBC World Service from the airwaves makes the city feel more parochial and inward-looking,” the petition said.

Longtime resident Alex Hofford, who organised the petition, said he had nothing against the CNR broadcast but does not believe it should have come at the expense of the BBC.

“This is a sad day for Hong Kong, I’ll really miss the Beeb as I drive around Hong Kong during the day,” Hofford said.

RTHK’s head of corporate communications Amen Ng told AFP Tuesday that it was a “difficult decision” due to “limited radio frequency”.

She described the CNR broadcast as “tailor-made” for Hong Kong.

“This is a cultural exchange between mainland China and Hong Kong,” Ng added.

Hong Kong was handed back to China by colonial ruler Britain in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” agreement designed to protect its freedoms and way of life, but there are growing concerns those rights are now under threat.

Asian markets, won sink after N.Korea’s latest nuclear test

September 4, 2017


© AFP | US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned of a “massive military response” to North Korea’s latest nuclear test, which has rattled equity and forex markets in Asia

HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian stocks tumbled with the South Korean won Monday while the safe haven yen rallied on news that North Korea had tested what it claimed was a miniaturised hydrogen bomb, ramping up tensions on the peninsula.

Less than a week after it rattled global markets by firing a rocket over Japan, Pyongyang on Sunday conducted its sixth nuclear test, sparking further condemnation and a warning from defence secretary Jim Mattis of a “massive military response” from the US.

On Sunday in the United States, the White House said President Donald Trump stands ready to use the country’s “full range of diplomatic, conventional, and nuclear capabilities” if North Korea continues to threaten it or its allies.

Trump earlier denounced the test, tweeting that the time for “appeasement” was over and threatening drastic economic sanctions, including “stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea”.

“It seems (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un shows no signs of conciliation,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader. North Korea “seems hell bent on either goading the United States, and its president, into a response or what it thinks will be an embarrassing back down.”

The latest flare up sent investors fleeing for safe assets, with the yen climbing to 109.73 to the dollar and gold up 0.7 percent to sit above $1,330. The won sank 0.8 percent against the dollar.

– Dollar pressure –

On equity markets Seoul shed 0.7 percent and Japan’s Nikkei ended the morning session 0.9 percent down as the stronger yen hurt exporters. Hong Kong slipped 0.4 percent and Sydney shed 0.3 percent, while Singapore gave up 0.4 percent.

However, Shanghai wiped out early losses to rise 0.2 percent in mid-morning trade.

“It’s all eyes on dollar-yen this morning, as it’s expected this latest NK aggression, could further intensify geopolitical tensions,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.

“The key now is how the international community will respond given how ineffective the tightened UN sanctions have been at discouraging North Korea’s ambitions.”

Sunday’s test was of a device that could be put on an intercontinental missile that could reach the United States, North Korea claimed.

Adding to pressure on the dollar was a below-expectations read on US jobs creation for August, which raised questions about the chances of a third Federal Reserve interest rate hike before the end of the year.

However, the greenback was holding its own against the euro after a report said the European Central Bank (ECB) could put off a decision on the future of its bond-buying stimulus programme until the end of the year.

The single currency has enjoyed a rally this year as a string of positive data from the eurozone fanned speculation the ECB would soon announce plans to begin scaling back the scheme.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.9 percent at 19,521.44 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 27,839.79

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,371.63

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1887 from $1.1862 at 2100 GMT on Monday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2964 from $1.2955

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.73 yen from 110.28 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 6 cents at $47.29

Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 11 cents at $52.75 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 21,987.56 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP percent at 7,438.50 (close)