Society

Hong Kong's International Food Scene Gets Political

In its diaspora around Asia and the rest of the world, Hong Kong's identity is closely tied to its food and tea. Now with the pressures from the mainland, the stakes are suddenly multiplied.

HONG KONG — Hot wonton soup, a cup of milk tea: These are among the dishes Hong Kongers around the world long for when they want a taste of their hometown. Leaving Hong Kong is a challenge for some, less so for others, but virtually all expats eventually grow tired of dishes from their adopted countries, and seek familiar flavors. But more and more, this desire has developed beyond nostalgia to become a question with much more at stake.

The evolution of Hong Kong food culture has, in retrospect, become a construction of the city's identity, from the internationalized food scene in the early years of the last century, which gathered regional cuisines from around the globe, to exportation, which has brought about a new generation of Hon Kong-style tea restaurants in China, Taiwan and even Japan.

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''Seditious'' Sheep? Inside Hong Kong's Crackdown On Children's Books

Hong Kong’s national security police recently arrested five people over the publication of children’s books featuring sheep, which it says represent Hong Kongers, attacking wolves, allegedly standing for mainlanders.

The Hong Kong National Security Police was on the move again last week, although this time the surprising target was a series of children's stories.

On July 22, authorities arrested five people over conspiring to publish seditious publications. The accused, all relatively young (between the ages of 25 and 28), are members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, as Hong Kong-based media The Initium reports. The operation against them marks the first time the National Security Law has been used to target stories directed at children.

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Death Of Apple Daily, What It Really Means For Hong Kong

Was this the last media ready to take on the regime in Bejing?

HONG KONG — After the National Security Police raid on its headquarters on June 17, Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy paper, Apple Daily, had announced its closure and published its final edition on Thursday, ending its 26 years of publication. But what exactly does the death of Apple Daily mean?

First, some history: Ever since its creation in 1995, it is the first full color paper in Hong Kong, and the only high-profile paper that published political dissent. Achieving commercial success with erotic entertainment content in its early days, Apple Daily has become the third most credible newspaper in Hong Kong by gaining public recognition with its firm stance against the total regime. Its final chapter has brought about a sharp narrowing of Hong Kong's mainstream discourse toward a moderate middle ground, where political dissent has been shut out of the public discussion.

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Politics Helps Explain Hong Kong's Low Vaccination Rates

Think about what other *advice the government is giving people...

HONG KONG — Vaccine hesitation here is not only about science, but also related to Hong Kong's history, identity and current politics. The widespread mistrust toward the Hong Kong administration and the central government in Beijing, false information about China's own SinoVac vaccine is constantly circulating online among those from Hong Kong.

There is misleading media coverage about adverse side effects after vaccination, as well as the slowing down of the epidemic have also further weakened the existing low willingness to vaccination, creating a vicious circle.

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Hong Kong
Lin Kexin

Abandoned Pets Crisis Amid Hong Kong's Emigration Wave

As a growing number of people pack up and leave the former British colony, the question arises: What to do about the family dog?

HONG KONG — Sesame, an 11-year-old poodle, has gone to the kennel twice now, and it's clear she didn't appreciate the experience. She came home both times with tummy trouble, throwing up and with a loss of appetite.

The animal's owner, Florence, organized the kennel visits as a kind of "training" experience, a way to prepare Sesame for an upcoming trip to Taiwan, where the family plans to emigrate. She'll have to travel alone in a plane's cargo hold. That, plus a quarantine upon arrival, will take at least seven days.

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Hong Kong

Xi Jinping Risks All And Nothing In Hong Kong Crackdown

-OpEd-

Chinese tanks have not rolled through the streets of Hong Kong, but Beijing's legislative coup Tuesday, on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the territory's handover to China, is provoking a similar fear. Pro-democracy business owners have hastily removed the slogans that lined their storefronts and thousands are applying to emigrate, with Australia set to offer safe haven.

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BBC

The Latest: Apple Daily Shuts Down, Taliban Gains, Millions Of New Millionaires

Welcome to Wednesday, where Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily officially announces its closure, new clashes have broken out in Ethiopia's Tigray region and the number of millionaires continues to increase despite the pandemic. Latin American business magazine America Economia also reports on how business schools around the world are now adding the environment to their curricula.

• Apple Daily forced to close amid Hong Kong crackdown: Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy paper, whose headquarters were raided last Thursday, has announced its closure and will print its final edition Thursday. The board was forced to end all Hong Kong operations due to government pressure, and its lead writer was arrested earlier today. Hong Kong's first National Security trial also began today, with the 24-year-old activist pleading not guilty.

• Taliban gains in Afghanistan: According to the UN's envoy to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyon, Taliban insurgents have seized more than 50 districts of 370 in the country since May. Lyon warned the increasing conflicts in the region also means increasing insecurity for other countries. The uncertainty comes as the U.S and NATO are still aiming for a complete pullout of troops by September 11.

• Crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray: Heavy conflict broke out between the rebel Tigray Defence Force (TDF) and the federal Ethiopian army in the northern region of Tigray, with reports of dozens of civilian casualties after an airstrike hit a busy village market. It is the most serious crisis since the government claimed victory in the conflict last November.

• NYC mayoral vote: New Yorkers cast their ballots yesterday in city primaries, with the Democratic nominee likely to win the mayor's race in November. Of the top four Democratic candidates, former police captain Eric Adams is in the lead, while former presidential candidate Andrew Yang has conceded. Due to ranked-choice voting, the results may take until mid July to be finalized.

• Saudis who killed journalist received military training in U.S.: According to the New York Times, four Saudis who participated in the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi received paramilitary training in the U.S. last year, with the approval from the State Department.

• New COVID-19 variant troubling India: Delta Plus, which is believed to be deadlier and more transmissible by scientists, has been labelled a "variant of concern" by the Indian government. There have been at least 22 cases related to Delta Plus in India. The variant has been found in the UK, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey.

• Britney Spears to finally speak out: #FreeBritney fans are eager to hear what pop icon, Britney Spears, will say when she publicly addresses her conservatorship today. The controversial legal arrangement, which many fans argue was unfounded and has stripped the star of her independence, allows Spears' father "control over her estate, career and other aspects of her personal life."

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Hong Kong
Alain Frachon

Why Hong Kong Means So Much To Xi Jinping

Beijing imposed a national security law in Hong Kong on May 28 to counteract its secessionist tendencies. What is at stake here for the former British colony?

-Analysis-

No matter when you visited Hong Kong, you'd always find its singular atmosphere: A slice of the Chinese world mixed with British-style rule of law. In Victoria Harbor, facing the Guangdong province, you could breathe the mixed perfumes of civil liberty and Chinese engineering as if it were a culmination of the Pearl River's own spirit.

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LE POINT

Coronavirus — Global Brief: Why We Never Talked About The Hong Kong Flu

The 1968 pandemic was the first spread by mass air travel on its way to a toll of 1 million dead. Yet somehow it has been largely ignored by history, even if its lessons raise many questions for the COVID-19 world.

The insidious path of COVID-19 across the planet is a blunt reminder of how small the world has become. For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on this crisis from the best, most trusted international news sources — regardless of language or geography. To receive the daily Coronavirus Global Brief in your inbox, sign up here.

SPOTLIGHT: WHY DON'T WE EVER TALK ABOUT THE HONG KONG FLU

The most cited historical comparison for COVID-19 dates back just over a century ago: the Spanish flu. The 1918 pandemic, which killed up to 50 million people worldwide, is mostly viewed today to as a testament to our improved ability to fight the spread of disease and limit loss of life. Yet there is a more recent, and strangely overlooked, example that may be much more worthy of our reflection, with points of comparison that say much about where we are today.

The Hong Kong flu emerged on the Asian island nation in July 1968, and within two weeks had already infected some 500,000 people. Fueled by what was then a recent boom in air traffic, the virus spread swiftly throughout Southeast Asia, and on to the United States through soldiers returning from Vietnam. By the spring of 1970 it had extended worldwide, and killed one million people.


Unlike both the current coronavirus spread and the Spanish flu, the Hong Kong flu didn't seem to attract the attention it deserved. Just a few examples we dug up: In Sweden, this front page of daily newspaper Epressen read "Stockholmers Have To Learn To Walk," referring to infrequent tram traffic due to hospitalized conductors; in France, reporters from weekly Paris Match weren't sent to visit the city's overcrowded hospitals, but a movie set where actress Marina Vlady was found laying in bed — "she doesn't have the Hong Kong flu," quipped the magazine, " she's just shooting a movie;" The Minnesota Star-Tribune recently noted that the only reference to the Hong Kong flu in the local press was an Associated Press report on Dec. 27, 1968: "Deaths attributed to the Hong Kong flu more than doubled across the nation in the third week of December. ... Official figures for the week showed roughly 500 more ‘pneumonia-influenced" deaths recorded in 122 cities." The story ran on page 24.


The global response to today's crisis couldn't stand in starker contrast, and the questions abound: How can we understand the nature of an elusive new virus? What must be done to mitigate its spread and lethality? What will it mean for the future? Indeed, the other great point of contrast with the Hong Kong flu, where no major quarantines were implemented, are the decisions being taken today in countries around the world to do everything possible to limit loss of life, including bringing the entire economy to a halt. That naturally leads to the very complicated question: How do we measure saving every human life against the longer term effects of a possible once-in-a-generation economic meltdown?

For now, it seems most of the world has agreed to prioritize the former at all cost. But as lockdowns are extended around the world and resources dwindle, we should expect that question to grow louder.

Carl-Johan Karlsson

THE SITUATION: 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

  • Toll: Global death toll nears 100,000. The state of New York registers some 162,000 cases, outpacing any single country, while New York City is now using mass burial sites on Hart Island. In Spain, the number of deaths is down to 607 in the past 24 hours, the lowest in 17 days.

  • Online Easter: Christians are invited to stay at home for Good Friday celebrations, as several churches around the world are broadcasting services online on Easter Sunday.

  • Better Boris: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved out of intensive care.

  • European Union agrees on €500 billion rescue package to help its worst-hit member states.

  • North Koreans meet: As other countries around the world suspend all political gatherings, Pyongyang will hold its annual Supreme People's Assembly in person this Friday, with its 687 deputies. COVID-19 is believed to be spreading in the country, though reliable statistics are unavailable.

  • New risk: First case confirmed in war-torn Yemen where virus spread could have "catastrophic" consequences.

  • Shelter in Space: Two Russian cosmonauts and one U.S. astronaut arrived safely at the International Space Station, probably the "safest place on Earth".

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blog
Bertrand Hauger

A Quieter Hong Kong

If I asked you to think about Hong Kong, the first images that would come to mind would probably be of rush-hour traffic and vertigo-inducing skyscrapers. But my wife and I were surprised to discover its many bays and soft white sand beaches.

blog
Bertrand Hauger

Off With Their Names

Hong Kong was still under British rule when we visited it. This strangely shaped building was then named the Prince of Wales Building and housed the head office of the British Army. In 1997, when the island became an autonomous territory of China, it was renamed: Chinese People's Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building — sorry Charles.

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Hong Kong
Lisa Lane

Why People In Hong Kong Live Really Long Lives

Hong Kongers really like soup. Is that the secret to their long leases on life?

This may come as something of a shock to the proud people of Japan, but they've lost their title as the population with the longest life expectancy. Instead the distinction goes to the people of Hong Kong, where men, on average, live 81.24 years and women make it all the way to 87.32.

What's the secret to their longevity? The Japanese Ministry of Health took it upon itself to find out by conducting a detailed survey. And the results, along with Ministry's hypotheses, are now in, the Japanese financial daily The Nikkei reports.

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Hong Kong
Mark Godfrey

Hong Kong's Seafood Appetite Threatens Marine Species

HONG KONGHong Kong's enormous appetite for seafood and its role as a hub for the global seafood trade is having an unfortunate impact on endangered fish species.

Chinese cuisine prizes seafood, so it's perhaps not surprising that per capita seafood consumption in Hong Kong averages 70 kilograms a year, about four times the global average. But the city is also a hub for trade into mainland China, where consumption is on the rise. All of that is putting a strain on endangered marine life and driving an unexpected sustainability push.

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blog

How Much For A Hong Kong Wedding?

HONG KONG Couples planning to walk down the aisle in Hong Kong better have some deep pockets. Even as consumer prices generally have dropped on the Chinese island, the average cost for a wedding is up to 314,000 Hong Kong dollars (about $40,000), according to the China Daily News.

Retail sales in Hong Kong have been falling for the last eight months, in part because of fewer Chinese tourists arriving, but weddings costs have curiously spiked. Receptions alone now cost on average the equivalent of $21,000, and rings and jewelry around $6,500. The average honeymoon now sets couples back $4,900, and the rest of the budget covers the photo shoot and all additional expenses, according to a study on the ESDlife ecommerce website for brides.

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CAIXINMEDIA
Wang Duan

Why Hong Kong Is Still A Model For Mainland China

-OpEd-

HONG KONG — Lately there have been snarky voices and Internet taunting directed at Hong Kong. This mostly comes from Chinese mainlanders declaring that Hong Kong's economy is doddering and unprogressive, and that from both an entrepreneurial and infrastructure point of view, it is lagging behind the world and mainland China.

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blog

China/U.S. Hackusation, Ghana Fire, Lovin' Leo

CHINA BLAMED FOR U.S. DATA BREACH

Chinese hackers recruited by their government are being accused of breaching the computer system of the federal Office of Personnel Management in December, The Washington Post reports. The personal data of as many as four million federal employees, including their banking records and credit card information, has been affected. The revelation came moments after a New York Times report that the NSA’s “warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international Internet traffic” had been secretly expanded to combat hacking. Responding to the accusation, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the claims were “irresponsible and unscientific.”

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