Future

Why People In Hong Kong Live Really Long Lives

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

Elderly woman in Hong Kong
Elderly woman in Hong Kong
Lisa Lane

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.

Food

If there's one thing that distinguishes the eating habits of people in Hong Kong, it's a fondness for soup. And not just any soup, but "soup with a variety of ingredients added — every evening," says Yang Yuying, 60. Not only are soups simmered slowly with pork, chicken or other meat, often they contain medicinal herbs as well.

Yang says that Hong Kongers vary the recipes of their soups depending on the season and their state of health. "If someone isn't feeling well, it's better to make soup with fish and vegetables that with chicken or beef," she explains.

Overall, Cantonese cuisine — Hong Kong's mainstream culinary style — involves a lot of fresh seafood and steamed fish. It differs, in that sense, from cooking in other parts of China, where many things are fried in oil. It's also the case that Hong Kongers tend to forgo strong alcohol. Instead they prefer tea or water, along with the occasional beer or red wine.

On a Hong Kong market — Photo: dave.see

All of this may help explain whey the average Body Mass Index (BMI) of people in Hong Kong is 21.2. In Japan the average BMI is 24.7, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health report.

Medical care

Another contributing factor to the lengthy lease on life so many Hong Kongers enjoy may be the high quality, readily available and reasonably priced public medical care available there. No one lives more than a few kilometers from affordable and modern public medical facilities. Japan, being far larger, cannot boast such a dense network of care.

Tobacco

Then there's tobacco, a notorious cause of serious health problems, as any doctor will confirm. As with hard alcohol, people in Hong Kong tend to be quite restrained when it comes to smoking. The Japanese Ministry of Health survey found that just 10.6% of Hong Kongers over the age of 15 smoke cigarettes. The smoking rate in Japan is nearly twice as high — 19.6%.

"In developed countries, the quickest and most effective way to extend the average life expectancy is to make people quit smoking," says Dr. Lin, a professor at Hong Kong University. "Mortality caused by lung cancer, myocardial infarction and other circulatory disorders can thus be reduced."

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Economy

Air Next: How A Crypto Scam Collapsed On A Single Spelling Mistake

It is today a proven fraud, nailed by the French stock market watchdog: Air Next resorted to a full range of dubious practices to raise money for a blockchain-powered e-commerce app. But the simplest of errors exposed the scam and limited the damage to investors. A cautionary tale for the crypto economy.

Sky is the crypto limit

Laurence Boisseau

PARIS — Air Next promised to use blockchain technology to revolutionize passenger transport. Should we have read something into its name? In fact, the company was talking a lot of hot air from the start. Air Next turned out to be a scam, with a fake website, false identities, fake criminal records, counterfeited bank certificates, aggressive marketing … real crooks. Thirty-five employees recruited over the summer ranked among its victims, not to mention the few investors who put money in the business.

Maud (not her real name) had always dreamed of working in a start-up. In July, she spotted an ad on Linkedin and was interviewed by videoconference — hardly unusual in the era of COVID and teleworking. She was hired very quickly and signed a permanent work contract. She resigned from her old job, happy to get started on a new adventure.


Others like Maud fell for the bait. At least ten senior managers, coming from major airlines, airports, large French and American corporations, a former police officer … all firmly believed in this project. Some quit their jobs to join; some French expats even made their way back to France.

Share capital of one billion 

The story began last February, when Air Next registered with the Paris Commercial Court. The new company stated it was developing an application that would allow the purchase of airline tickets by using cryptocurrency, at unbeatable prices and with an automatic guarantee in case of cancellation or delay, via a "smart contract" system (a computer protocol that facilitates, verifies and oversees the handling of a contract).

The firm declared a share capital of one billion euros, with offices under construction at 50, Avenue des Champs Elysées, and a president, Philippe Vincent ... which was probably a usurped identity.

Last summer, Air Next started recruiting. The company also wanted to raise money to have the assets on hand to allow passenger compensation. It organized a fundraiser using an ICO, or "Initial Coin Offering", via the issuance of digital tokens, transacted in cryptocurrencies through the blockchain.

While nothing obliged him to do so, the company owner went as far as setting up a file with the AMF, France's stock market regulator which oversees this type of transaction. Seeking the market regulator stamp is optional, but when issued, it gives guarantees to those buying tokens.

screenshot of the typo that revealed the Air Next scam

The infamous typo that brought the Air Next scam down

compta online

Raising Initial Coin Offering 

Then, on Sept. 30, the AMF issued an alert, by way of a press release, on the risks of fraud associated with the ICO, as it suspected some documents to be forgeries. A few hours before that, Air Next had just brought forward by several days the date of its tokens pre-sale.

For employees of the new company, it was a brutal wake-up call. They quickly understood that they had been duped, that they'd bet on the proverbial house of cards. On the investor side, the CEO didn't get beyond an initial fundraising of 150,000 euros. He was hoping to raise millions, but despite his failure, he didn't lose confidence. Challenged by one of his employees on Telegram, he admitted that "many documents provided were false", that "an error cost the life of this project."

What was the "error" he was referring to? A typo in the name of the would-be bank backing the startup. A very small one, at the bottom of the page of the false bank certificate, where the name "Edmond de Rothschild" is misspelled "Edemond".

Finding culprits 

Before the AMF's public alert, websites specializing in crypto-assets had already noted certain inconsistencies. The company had declared a share capital of 1 billion euros, which is an enormous amount. Air Next's CEO also boasted about having discovered bitcoin at a time when only a few geeks knew about cryptocurrency.

Employees and investors filed a complaint. Failing to find the general manager, Julien Leclerc — which might also be a fake name — they started looking for other culprits. They believe that if the Paris Commercial Court hadn't registered the company, no one would have been defrauded.

Beyond the handful of victims, this case is a plea for the implementation of more secure procedures, in an increasingly digital world, particularly following the pandemic. The much touted ICO market is itself a victim, and may find it hard to recover.

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