The ongoing saga of Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua’s comings and goings took several intriguing twists and turns this week when Xiao mysteriously disappeared from his suite at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong. His company, Beijing-based Tomorrow Group, then put out a statement saying he was receiving medical treatment overseas. A full page advert in a Hong Kong newspaper, apparently signed by Xiao, denied that he had been kidnapped. In fact, it turns out he had – for all intents and purposes – been ‘taken’ by ‘agents’ from China and returned to the mainland to ‘assist’ investigations into the stock market turmoil of 2015 and the case of a former top spy. More here and here.
It was revealed this week that the 999 emergency hotline was jammed by nearly 750,000 nuisance or misdialled calls last year, according to police. ‘Cases’ have included cut fingers, noises heard, constipation – plus the usual drunks and bored kids. To put that in perspective, it means that almost 35% of all calls to police regional command and contact centres were a complete waste of time.
University of Hong Kong vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson shocked the city’s academic and political circles this week by announcing his resignation – two year’s before his contract expires – to take the helm of Edinburgh University in Scotland. He cited personal reasons for his resignation, but with the huge cut from his (let’s be honest) cushty $5.8million pay packet, many people wonder if it’s more to do with the stress of juggling politics at HKU than his love for Irn Bru. Read more here.
HKU vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson admits job is ‘complicated’… SCMP
Beijing’s growing influence on Hong Kong’s political, civil, and economic affairs has impacted the SAR’s latest global score for freedom, as quantified by the US-based rights watchdog, Freedom House. Factor’s such as the missing booksellers case and Legco’s oath row are two of the biggest culprits for the downgrade from 63 to 61.
The first of 16 planned food trucks opened for business this week, the fruition of a two-year pilot scheme first proposed in the 2015/16 budget. Eight more licensed trucks, and the remaining five still waiting for permits, are expected to commence operation in March. The trucks will remain stationary and share/swap eight designated areas throughout the city – a fun twist that defeats the whole point of a food truck, really.
It’s no secret that those who live here like nothing more than gushing about how great Hong Kong is. It seems though that quite a lot of people agree, as Hong Kong is the world’s most visited city for the seventh consecutive year. UK-based market research group, Euromonitor International, has revealed that 26 million foreigners came to the SAR in 2015 (which formed the basis for the rankings), with most visitors arriving from mainland China. Given the ‘welcome’ those visitors received at the time, we believe the numbers have changed.
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