Hong Kong’s ombudsman has accused authorities of inadequate monitoring of high-demand vaccines following an investigation into their quality, after fake human papillomavirus (HPV) shots were found at two clinics in 2019.The findings prompted the watchdog to urge the government to ensure transparency of information once Covid-19 vaccines became available in the private market and also prevent any counterfeit or parallel imported vaccines from entering the local market.“Investigation by the…
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“He missed the Guineas with a foot and the syndicate group, I think they were a bit divided by at the price, they decided to sell.
“Some wanted to sell and some didn’t but when you’ve got a syndicate with a lot of numbers, you put it to a vote and the vote was in favour to sell, which I would hate to be training against him in Hong Kong.”
A source familiar with the details of the sale told The Age and the Herald the sale price was $1.6 million.
Crosshaven’s transfer overseas is subject to a Hong Kong vet examination, scheduled to be done by the end of this week.
“As a four-year-old, I think he would have been a good Toorak horse and Emirates [Stakes], those sorts of races,” Hayes said.
“But it wasn’t guaranteed. Carbine winners, some years they train on, some years they don’t. But I know the horse, I used to train him, and I had no hesitation trying to buy him when I knew there was a chance he could have been bought.
“I don’t have any horses in my stable at the upper class at the moment so he’ll be a welcomed addition.”
Co-trainer Tom Dabernig said it was a touch disappointing Crosshaven was leaving his stable.
“It’s sad that he’s going, for selfish reasons, but it’s been a good result financially for the owners,” he said.
“They’ve had some good success with the horse and done well out of him financially, so hopefully he can continue and be successful there. I’m sure he will be.”
Meanwhile Dabernig said Aysar, who disappointed in Saturday’s Australian Guineas, would be given another opportunity in the spring as a colt.
“I thought the inside barrier might suit him because I thought he might get cover and relax but being a colt he resented horses on his outside and he half wanted to charge and just did it a bit upside down,” Dabernig said.
“He’ll probably be backed off now and we’ll probably train him as a shorter course horse, 1200 to 1400 [metres].
“The horse has never really been out of work so I think now is a good opportunity to give him a bit of a break and train him for the early spring.”
Dabernig said a race like the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes might be ideal for Aysar as a spring four-year-old.
Damien Ractliffe is the Chief Racing Reporter for The Age.
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Hundreds of democracy supporters have gathered outside a Hong Kong courthouse chanting slogans and flashing protest symbols as some of the city’s best-known dissidents appeared in the dock charged with subversion.
Beijing is battling to stamp out dissent in semi-autonomous Hong Kong after swathes of the population hit the streets in 2019 in huge and sometimes violent democracy demonstrations.
It has blanketed the once free-wheeling finance hub in a national security law, while anti-coronavirus measures ban public gatherings of more than four people.
Police on Sunday charged 47 leading dissidents with conspiracy to commit subversion in the largest use yet of the security legislation.
Monday’s hearing sparked a resurgence of defiance from members of the public in a city where protest has been all but outlawed.
Hundreds queued up outside the law courts in one of the biggest gatherings in months as police maintained a heavy presence.
Some chanted slogans including “Release all political prisoners” and “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” – the latter a slogan authorities say is now illegal under the security law.
Others flashed the three-finger “Hunger Games” salute that has been embraced by fellow democracy campaigners in Thailand and Myanmar.
Pro-democracy activists supporters hold a banner that reads “Release all political prisoners” in support of the arrested activists a Hong Kong court.
Tensions rose and fell throughout the afternoon as police raised banners warning that an illegal gathering was taking place and that protesters were breaking the national security law with their chanting.
Officers could be seen stopping and searching several young men outside the court but the crowds did not disperse.
‘Jailed, exiled and charged’
Local district councillor Kwan Chun-sang was one of dozens who camped overnight to bag a spot at the front of the queue for the court’s public gallery.
“Soon after the charges were laid yesterday I decided to come and spend the night here,” Mr Kwan told AFP. “I would like to show my support for the pro-democracy activists.”
A small group of nationalist protesters held banners welcoming the subversion charges.
“Punish the traitors severely, enact the national security law and throw them all behind bars,” one sign read.
The defendants represent a broad cross-section of Hong Kong’s opposition, from veteran former pro-democracy lawmakers to academics, lawyers, social workers and a host of youth activists.
So many have been charged that officials had to open up three other courtrooms to accommodate the overspill.
After a brief appearance by the charged, proceedings were adjourned to later in the afternoon.
The alleged offence of those arrested for subversion was to organise an unofficial primary last summer to choose candidates for the city’s partially elected legislature, in hopes that the pro-democracy bloc might take a majority for the first time and block government legislation.
Chinese and Hong Kong officials viewed the primary as an attempt to “overthrow” the city’s government and therefore a threat to national security.
They were arrested in a series of dawn raids in January and charged on Sunday with “conspiracy to commit subversion” – one of the new broadly defined national security crimes. They face up to life in prison if convicted.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken led international criticism of the latest charges, calling for the group’s immediate release, as western powers accused Beijing of shredding the freedoms and autonomy it promised Hong Kong could maintain ahead of the territory’s handover from the British.
Britain and the European Union said the charges showed the law was being used to target political dissent rather than actual threats to national security.
China’s foreign ministry on Monday dismissed the US criticism and said Beijing “resolutely supports Hong Kong police… in upholding national security as well as Hong Kong’s security and stability”.
The security law was imposed on the city last year and criminalises any act deemed to be subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces.
The wording and subsequent application of the legislation has successfully curbed dissent, outlawed a host of political views and radically transformed semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s relationship with the authoritarian mainland.
Those charged can usually expect to be remanded into custody for months until their trial as the law removes the territory’s tradition of granting bail for non-violent crimes.
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Official policy in Hong Kong is moving to explicit racism as its leader, chief executive Carrie Lam, follows the latest diktats from Beijing. In a February 9 statement, Lam made a clear distinction between ethnic Chinese and others in announcing that the Hong Kong government would not recognize dual passports although these are held by millions of Hong …
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A Tasmanian cherry producer believes technology is finally starting to thwart counterfeiters in Asia, where lower grade cherries from outside Australia are being packed in boxes imitating premium Australian brands.
Hong Kong Customs has seized 196 boxes of suspected counterfeit branded cherries, labelled as Tasmanian-grown
Tasmanian cherries command a premium price in Hong Kong, with 2kg boxes selling for up to HK$600 ($100)
Selling goods with a forged trademark carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $500,000 fine
Last Thursday Hong Kong Customs seized 196 boxes of cherries labelled as Tasmanian grown and packaged in boxes imitating Howard Hansen’s 43 Degrees South brand.
In a statement, Customs said it arrested a 41-year-old saleswoman during a raid on a fruit shop and seized the suspected counterfeit-branded cherries, which weighed about 400 kilograms and had an estimated market value of HK$80,000, or about $13,400.
Customs had received information alleging a shop was “suspected of selling counterfeit-branded cherries.”
A batch of suspected counterfeit-branded cherries and packing materials was seized from a fruit shop in Yau Ma Tei.
Tasmanian grower Howard Hansen said the boxes looked identical to his company’s but did not have the unique QR code.
“Counterfeiting of our brand is something that’s been going on in advance of 15 years, but now with the traceability and unique identification numbers using QR codes that are on the carton, that’s something that they aren’t able to replicate,” he said.
The statement from Hong Kong Customs said investigations were ongoing.
“Customs is looking into the source of the cherries involved in the case and samples will be sent to the Government laboratory for safety testing,” the statement said.
“With the Lunar New Year around the corner, Customs will continue to step up inspections and enforcement to combat the sale of counterfeit goods and festive counterfeit food items before and during the holiday.”
Fake QR codes alerted producer to fraudulent activity
Mr Hansen’s cherries are much sought after in Asian markets, particularly in the lead up to Chinese New Year, making them highly attractive to counterfeiters.
“There’s such a commercial opportunity for them,” he said.
“They’re probably able to buy Chilean cherries in the market for less than 10 per cent of our cherries, and so if they then place those Chilean cherries into a counterfeit carton and trick consumers into paying the full price, they’re making a lot of money.”
He said counterfeiters went to extraordinary lengths to replicate his packaging, copying logos, seals and pictures.
“It’s almost impossible to tell them apart,” he said.
“The only thing they weren’t able to replicate — there’s a photo of some cherries on our 43 Degrees South carton and it’s got a reflection in the cherry and the counterfeit cartons didn’t have the reflection but we wouldn’t have picked it up without the QR code bringing it to our attention in the first place.”
He said every single carton had a unique code on it, which end consumers could scan to check the cherries’ origin.
“So when an individual QR code kept popping up and it was one that wasn’t generated by us, that alerted us that there was some fraudulent activity going on, and then our representatives in Hong Kong were able to bring that to the attention of local authorities and take the action that we’ve seen the result of,” he said.
Mr Hansen said he was pleased that the technology has finally caught up and is catching counterfeiters.
“With the extra identification and traceability on the carton, I think we’re going to be able to make prosecutions a lot more regularly if it keeps occurring,” he said.
In Hong Kong, selling or possessing goods with a forged trademark carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $500,000.
Mr Hansen is calling for the maximum penalty to be applied to help deter the practice.
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Hong Kong has unveiled controversial guidelines for schools that include teaching students as young as six about colluding with foreign forces and subversion, as part of a new national security curriculum.
Beijing imposed a security law on Hong Kong in June 2020 in response to months of often violent anti-government and anti-China protests in 2019 that put the global financial hub more firmly on an authoritarian path.
The Education Bureau’s guidelines, released late on Thursday, show that Beijing’s plans for the semi-autonomous Hong Kong go beyond quashing dissent, and aim for a societal overhaul to bring its most restive city more in line with the Communist Party-ruled mainland.
“National security is of great importance. Teachers should not treat it as if it is a controversial issue for discussion as usual,” the guidelines said.
Teachers should “clearly point out that safeguarding national security is the responsibility of all nationals and that as far as national security is concerned, there is no room for debate or compromise.”
After the 2019 protests, which brought out many teenage demonstrators, Chinese leaders turned to re-education in a bid to tame the city’s youth and make them loyal citizens.
Critics call guidelines ‘brainwashing’
Head of the Professional Teachers’ Union, Ip Kin-yuen, said the guidelines would cause “uncertainty, ambiguity and anxiety” for teachers and enforce a “restrictive and suppressive” education style that does not foster student development and independent thinking.
Raymond Yeung, a former teacher partially blinded by a projectile during 2019 protests, described the guidelines as “one dimensional, if not brainwashing.”
Wong, a mother of primary school children, said the law was “clamping down on people’s individual thoughts” and adding national security to the curricula created a climate of fear.
“I am angry. They shouldn’t be bringing this into classrooms,” said Wong, who declined to give her first name due to the sensitivity of the issue.
However, not all parents were opposed to the changes.
“It’s a good start, no matter who you are and where are you from, you have to love your country,” said Feng, mother of a six-year-old.
A new educational cartoon
Children in primary schools will learn how to sing and respect China’s national anthem, and gain an understanding of the four main offences in the new security law, including terrorism and secessionism.
In secondary schools, pupils will learn what constitutes such offences, which can carry sentences of up to life in prison.
Some legal scholars have said the law’s language is broad and vague, and the range of activities authorities might see as potential threats to national security was unclear and fluid.
An educational cartoon video released by the government shows an owl wearing glasses and a graduation hat explaining Hong Kong’s institutional architecture, its duties to the central government in Beijing and the national security law.
At one point the video says “national security affairs are of utmost importance to the whole country,” while showing smiling faces of a student, a chef and an engineer.
Schools are encouraged to “organize various game activities, such as puppet theatre, board games … to establish a good atmosphere and improve students’ understanding of national security,” according to the guidelines.
The guidelines said kindergartens can help students learn about traditional festivals, music and arts and develop fondness for Chinese customs to “lay the foundation for national security education.” Kindergarten children were not expected to learn about national security crimes.
Teachers expected to uphold law
The Education Bureau said it accepted international and private schools had different curricula, but said they had a “responsibility to help their students (regardless of their ethnicity and nationality) acquire a correct and objective understanding … of national security.”
Schools should also stop students and teachers from participating in activities deemed as political, such as singing certain songs, wearing various items, forming human chains or shouting slogans.
Teachers and principals are required to inspect notice boards, remove books that endanger national security from libraries, and call police if they suspect any breaches.
The bureau said national security education will become part of subjects such as geography and biology to enhance students’ sense of national identity.
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Thousands of people from Hong Kong are fleeing their hometown since Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on the territory last summer
ByThe Associated Press
January 31, 2021, 2:48 AM
• 5 min read
LONDON — Cindy had a comfortable lifestyle in Hong Kong: she owned several properties with her husband, they had a good business going. But last year she made up her mind to leave it all behind and move her family to Britain, and not even a global pandemic was going to sway her decision.
“To uproot ourselves like this is definitely not easy. But things got uglier last year, the government was really driving us away,” said the businesswoman and mother of two young children who didn’t give her family name because she feared repercussions for speaking out against the Chinese government. “Everything we value – freedom of speech, fair elections, liberties – has been eroded. It’s no longer the Hong Kong we knew, it’s no longer somewhere we can call home.”
Cindy, who landed in London last week, is one of thousands of Hong Kongers fleeing their hometown since Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on the territory last summer.
Some are leaving because they fear punishment for supporting pro-democracy protests. But many others, like her, say China’s encroachment on their way of life and civil liberties has become unbearable, and they want to seek a better future for their children abroad. Most say they don’t plan to ever go back.
Many firmed up their exit plans after Britain announced in July that it would open a special immigration pathway for up to 5 million eligible Hong Kongers to live, work and eventually settle in the U.K.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week the offer shows Britain is honoring its “profound ties of history” with Hong Kong, a former colony that reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 on the understanding that it would retain its Western-style freedoms and much of its political autonomy not seen on mainland China.
Applications for the British National Overseas visa officially open Sunday, though many like Cindy have already arrived on British soil to get a head start. Eligible Hong Kongers can currently come to the U.K. for six months, but from Sunday they can apply for the right to live and work in the country for five years. After that, they can apply for settled status and then British citizenship.
Britain’s government said some 7,000 people with British National Overseas (BNO) status have arrived since July. It estimates that over 300,000 people will take up the offer of extended residency rights in the next five years.
Cindy said she wanted to leave as soon as possible because she feared Beijing would soon move to halt the exodus.
“The Chinese government said it hasn’t ruled out harsher tactics,” she said. “I think they could lash out if tens of thousands of young professionals start leaving, because that would surely upset Hong Kong’s economy and they wouldn’t like that at all.”
Beijing said Friday it will no longer recognize the BNO passport as a travel document or form of identification, and criticized Britain’s citizenship offer as a move that “seriously infringed” on China’s sovereignty. It was unclear what effect the announcement would have because many Hong Kongers carry multiple passports.
Beijing drastically hardened its stance on Hong Kong after massive anti-government protests in 2019 turned violent and plunged the city into a months-long crisis. Since the security law’s enactment, dozens of pro-democracy activists have been arrested, and the movement’s young leaders have either been jailed or fled abroad.
Because the new law broadly defined acts of subversion, secession, foreign collusion and terrorism, many in Hong Kong fear that expressing any form of political opposition – even posting messages on social media – could land them in trouble.
“I think if you knew when to shut up, you’ll be OK staying in Hong Kong,” said 39-year-old Fan, who also recently arrived in London. Like Cindy, he didn’t want to provide his full name. “But I don’t want to do that. I can complain about the queen if I wanted to – I can say anything here.”
Fan, an animator, had sold his flat in Hong Kong and plans to slowly build a new life in Britain – a country he had never even visited before. He won’t be alone in starting from scratch.
“This is a really unique emigration wave – some people haven’t had time to actually visit the country they’re relocating to. Many have no experience of living abroad,” said Miriam Lo, who runs Excelsior UK, a relocation agency. “And because of the pandemic, they couldn’t even come over to view a home before deciding to buy.”
The British government estimates there are 2.9 million BNO status holders eligible to move to the U.K., with a further 2.3 million eligible dependants. The U.K. introduced BNO passports in the 1980s for people who were a “British dependent territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong.” Until recently, the passports had limited benefits because they did not confer nationality or the right to live and work in Britain.
Cindy, the businesswoman, was still recovering from jetlag, but she’s upbeat about her future.
“We want to bring Hong Kong’s energy, our resources and our finances here,” she said. “The move is for our kids, sure. But we want to build a whole new life here for ourselves too.”
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HONG KONG — Travel booking platform Klook has raised $200 million in a new funding round, underscoring investor confidence in the ability of the tourism industry to eventually recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest fundraising was led by new investor Aspex Management, a Hong Kong-based investment fund, with participation from existing backers SoftBank Vision Fund 1, Chinese private equity fund Boyu Capital and the China arms of U.S. groups Matrix Partners and Sequoia Capital.
“The travel industry has undoubtedly been hit hard by the pandemic, but Klook has shown resilience and adaptability despite the market headwinds,” said Hermes Li, chief investment officer and founder of Aspex, in a statement released by Klook. Li added that he remains confident about post-COVID demand for digital bookings and Klook’s ability to maintain a leading market position in travel experiences and services.
In some key markets, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, bookings for local activities, staycations and car rentals are “reaching near pre-COVID levels,” Klook company said. Founded in 2014, the Hong Kong-based company has 28 offices worldwide, mainly in Asia.
“We have observed over the past year that consumers have a pent-up desire to explore and enjoy themselves, despite international travel being paused,” said Ethan Lin, co-founder and chief executive. “Instead, they are turning inwards — exploring new and unique experiences right in their backyard.”
Chief Operating Officer Eric Gnock Fah, left, with CEO Ethan Lin and Chief Technology Officer Bernie Xiong. (Courtesy Klook)
The latest financing round lifts Klook’s total funding to date to $720 million but the company declined to reveal the valuation basis of the new investments. Startup data service CB Insights valued the company at $1.35 billion before the latest infusion.
Klook said it “remains in strong financial health” and that it has not pared back its growth ambitions. The fresh funding will be used to accelerate development of software-based services to help travel experience providers with managing ticketing, distribution, inventory management and marketing.
“With this new funding, we have additional ammunition to accelerate our technology innovation and truly transform and empower this space for future growth,” said Eric Gnock Fah, Klook co-founder and chief operating officer, who added that the company already had more than 2,500 global clients for its “software as a service” offerings.
“We are confident that our industry is a resilient one,” said a spokesperson. “Recovery is certain, but it would boil down to a matter of when. There is good news on our horizon with the vaccine rollout across multiple countries. [But] so while we are optimistic, it is prudent for us to enter the year with some caution.”
Despite general pessimism over the tourism sector amid the pandemic, investors have given new backing to a number of travel startups. Taipei-based KKday, Klook’s major regional rival, closed a $75 million funding last September to fund development of a new booking management platform.
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A woman is to appear in a Hong Kong court on Friday charged with firearms offences after being arrested carrying a stun gun shaped like a cigarette lighter.The 41-year-old is expected to appear in West Kowloon Court after being charged with possession of firearms without a licence, according to police.She was among three people detained in separate instances in Sham Shui Po between October and December last year.Police said the woman was arrested in October after the stun gun was found in her…
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Editors in both the Asia hub and in London also handle various live briefings on a variety of topics, with Russell Goldman, Jennifer Jett, Mike Ives and Dan Powell in Hong Kong, and Kaly Soto, Ms. Specia, Mr. Santora and Daniel Victor in London tackling, at times, multiple live briefings at once.
Coverage of the coronavirus began in Wuhan, China, which the Asia hub oversaw. As the virus spread, so did the demands of the coverage, becoming an all-hands-on-deck live briefing article that continues today, with London or Hong Kong editors starting a new coronavirus briefing every day. Coverage of the U.S. election, which lasted days, was passed from news hub to news hub. When the Politics desk managed a few hours of sleep, the Asia and London hubs continued to watch for breaking news, maintain live coverage and edit articles.
When U.S. news breaks overnight, as it did with President Trump’s diagnosis with the coronavirus, the Asia hub can work with the Washington bureau as well as with London to follow that story from thousands of miles away.
“We’re built to do anything,” Ms. Carter said. “It can be frenetic and crazy at times, but that’s the excitement, right? You get to experience it all.”
Jim Yardley, the Europe editor, said that the way the international newsrooms are structured helps makes the joint efforts seamless. “One of the things about London and Hong Kong is that, primarily, they are outgrowths of the International desk, but they are part of every desk in many ways,” he said. “It’s an attempt to actually make the work more collaborative and less siloed.”
In late November, there were signals of a covert meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, a major story. Editors in London phoned the correspondents responsible for covering that news in both Lebanon and Israel, whose primary editors were based in New York. The breaking news was published, and the wheels of coverage were set in motion.
“It was a very complicated story because it kept changing,” Mr. Yardley said. “And by the time New York woke up, we were probably on the fifth version of that story.”
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